A day after AMC CEO, Adam Aron, said the company would not require masks as a way to avoid “political controversy,” the company switched. The nation’s largest cinema chain, announced Friday that it would require all movie-goers to wear masks when theaters reopen.
An Immediate Change of Heart
On Thursday, Aron said in an interview with Variety, “We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy…We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”
The use of a facial covering, which the Centers for Disease Control says can curb the spread of COVID-19, has become a polarizing issue. Despite his administration’s recommendation, President Trump has refused to wear a mask in or outside the White House. Those who agree with the President paint the choice to not wear one as a stance for personal liberty. Others, including the scientific community, view it as a form of civic responsibility. Masks are a small inconvenience that could protect our neighbors from the spreading coronavirus.
In a Friday statement to investors, Aron said that his prior comments had sparked unintended backlash. AMC customers called on the chief executive to take a stance for public safety.
“Accordingly,” Aron said, “and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. As we reopen theaters, we now will require that all AMC guests, nationwide, wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theaters.”
AMC’s Reopening Plan
The Kansas-based cinema chain is set to reopen 450 of 600 U.S. theaters on July 15th. They will require mask use, employ strict sanitation measures, and operate with limited capacity to accommodate for physical distancing. But a smooth reopening will be paramount to securing the company’s future.
During the shutdown, AMC reported a $2.2 billion net loss. By late March revenue had dwindled to close to zero. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AMC said that unless reopening goes smoothly, “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.” The relaunch will be a crucial test of the company’s ability to recover.