AMC theaters won’t require masks, due to ‘political controversy’ Update: reversed

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Update: AMC has reversed this policy and now says masks will be required.


We heard last week that AMC theaters, the largest movie chain in the world, would be opening almost all of its locations, with social distancing and blockbusters on more screens, in mid July. Regal theaters, the second largest chain, announced earlier this week that they would open in mid July too. In my coverage of Regal’s opening, I mentioned the details in Regal’s plan which a lot of outlets were focusing on – that theater-goers would not have to wear masks where it’s not legally required and that social distancing would be on an honor basis at places without assigned seats. It turns out that AMC’s plan is just about the same. The CEO, Adam Aron, did an interview with Variety and he comes across quite arrogant and very focused on the bottom line, which is how most CEOs are I guess.

“In my heart of hearts, I think we can manage AMC through this crisis,” said Aron. “There are no guarantees and nobody knows what coronavirus will look like in the winter or how long it will take to get a vaccine, but I can tell you that we have a very able management team here. We’re going to make every effort to make sure that AMC continues to be well positioned as a leader of the movie theater industry.”

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “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.”

[From Variety]

I’ll be fair – he’s trying to avoid bankruptcy and the dumpster fire of a President is saying that people who wear masks are making a political statement against him. The CEO of Costco has it right though, they’re requiring masks in all locations, by guests and employees, and have explained that they’re following CDC recommendations. Movie theaters are small closed places where people sit for a couple of hours next to each other, they’re not huge warehouses with plenty of room! Airlines are requiring masks and movie theaters should too. How f’ed up is it that taking basic, science-based precautions against a virus that kills people is “politically controversial?” In two weeks there will be so many cases from 45′s indoor Nazi rally this weekend in Tulsa, and those people will spread it to their communities. I wish none of this had to happen.

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Photos are a screenshot from the trailer for Tenet, out July 31, and credit Luis Quintero via Pexels and Krists Luhaers on Unsplash.

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61 Responses to “AMC theaters won’t require masks, due to ‘political controversy’ Update: reversed”

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  1. Emily says:

    Wearing a mask is not political! It’s a health and safety measure. Go figure Trump would make mask wearing all about him.

    • Mel says:

      Actually I was going to say, he IS making a political decision. He wants to avoid the MAGA meltdowns. But you are correct that it shouldn’t be political. It is now because of the guy in the WH. Waiting for all the Karen videos to reach social media when people with any common sense will put pressure on the people not wearing masks and we’ll get to see the Karens have a meltdown about infringed rights or something.

  2. Darla says:

    He was incredibly naive to think he could avoid getting caught up in a political controversy, we live in a crazy time where to mask or not to mask is a political tribe matter.

    But, also…I can’t see wearing a mask for an entire 2 hours, can you? I think you should have to if you’re going, I really do. But it’s one of the many reasons I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing a mask that long, you still have to lower it to drink or eat, so everyone is going to be doing that either way, and so I still don’t think it’s safe. Pass.

    Look, it’s too soon. Movie theaters shouldn’t be opening, it’s going to spread the covid. I wish it were different, but it’s not.

    • Ashipper says:

      I’m an essential employee at a residential/vocation program for adults with autism. I wear a mask (and now eye protection) for up to 9.5 hours at a time. I think it’s very doable to wear one for 2 hours. The problem is that if people are wearing masks, they’re not buying snacks and drinks, and that’s where movie theaters make all their money.

      • Exactly!! says:

        That is it right there. He knows if people are wearing them, they won’t be spending all their money on snacks and drinks that will be too hard to eat and drink. For him, it has nothing to do with anything else.

      • IMUCU says:

        @ashipper

        I wear an N95 mask with a 3-ply paper mask over it, for 10 hours a day, less a lunch break, too! I wore only a paper mask the other day a doctor’s appointment and thought “Wow, this is a breeze to wear, it’s like I’m wearing nothing at all!” I have NO sympathy for people (with no respiratory issues) complaining about wearing paper or fabric masks for hours on end. Try to wear one along with an N95 mask, while walking around fast paced or doing chores, in a poorly air conditioned area, then come talk to me. I feel bad for those that have to wear the full body suits with the masks! I’ve only had to do that a few times now and for a few minutes at a time, so I can’t imagine how awful that is to be in those for more than 30 minutes. Anyway, I’m really irked and disappointed in people for complaining about wearing simple face masks. You can adapt until we have a vaccine, it’s not forever.

      • holly hobby says:

        I’m not buying any snacks, especially from the community popcorn bin. Whelp, I don’t need to spend money at the theater and if they won’t enforce masks, I’ll do just fine waiting for the blu ray.

    • Hellohello says:

      As someone with a lot of chemical and mold sensitivities, I’ve worn a mask for a few years, when needed. Wearing it at the movies would be fine. You’re just sitting there, not talking, so your respiration is pretty easy and steady. Eating and drinking might not work well, but it’s honestly not that bad.

    • minx says:

      My daughter has to wear one all day for work. You get used to it.

    • Linda says:

      I wear a mask all day at work. I’m socially distancing and am able to work far from others but it’s a group home with kids and staff. I feel safer wearing it and only removing it to eat and drink. It was hard at first because it hurt my ears, kinda gave me a headache and I had to figure out how to balance my glasses on the mask, but nah, people could have adjusted to mask wearing by now if there had been coherent messaging and leading by example. It’s not a huge ask or political at all. It’s public health and teamwork, both of which are nonexistent in America these days.

      • Some chick says:

        You can make or buy an extender for the ear loop masks. It goes behind your head and connects the elastic loops together so they are not pulling on your ears. I’ve seen them made of grosgrain ribbon with a button stitched to each end, and also adjustable ones.

    • Dani says:

      Essential employee here — I wear a mask for my ENTIRE 13 hr shift 3-4 days a week. It can be done.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I flew across country for work, about 12 hrs of travel total. All of it wearing a mask, as required on the planes & in the airports. It’s doable.

  3. BlueSky says:

    The cases keep rising here. We are at over 21k cases and I fear it’s only going to get worse. A major automotive plant here just announced they had several COVID cases. 2 restaurants here had to close AGAIN because of COVID. I’ve been working from home and working out at home. I’m thinking of freezing my gym membership because it’s only a matter of time before I here they have to close again. So, yeah, I’m not anywhere near a movie theater.

    • Seraphina says:

      Cases are beginning to rise where I am too. People just do not get understand because it’s all about them and their individual rights. The selfishness around me by strangers and friends too has sickened me. This pandemic and the protesting to racial injustice has brought out the ugliness in people that was always there but I could not see. And to be honest; I would rather stay home then hang with them.

      • BlueSky says:

        @Seraphina, same. All the recent events have made me more reclusive. I even hate going to the grocery store. There are people in there that still refuse to wear a mask. It just makes me angry at the level of selfishness I’m seeing.

    • Nonartistic Diane says:

      I live in Arizona. Our local governments pressured dumb Gov. Ducey into being able to mandate mask wearing in public without his approval. Mounting pressure from them, the medical community, and our spiking Covid cases made him relent and put it in the hand of local governments. Many were going to do it regardless. Wearing masks in public starts at 0600 tomorrow in my city. I’m glad for this.
      You don’t have to wear them in restaurants while eating or drinking. I’m curious to see if movie theaters here will use that loophole.

  4. Not Karen says:

    I live in Italy, and I’ve been having problems at my place of work because the teachers/students at our school are not obliged to wear masks in the classroom, as we can just “open the windows.” The people who don’t want to wear masks are the people who are worried about the economy, and just want things to get “back to normal” which is counterproductive and borderline selfish in my opinion. Don’t people realize it’s because of these rules that the numbers aren’t as bad as they used to be? (I’m talking about Italy of course, the US is a whole other can of worms…)

  5. Lightpurple says:

    Masks are required here. Also no idea when the state and cities will allow theaters to open

  6. Aang says:

    The thought of going to a theater right now, mask or no, is just too germy to contemplate.

  7. lemonylips says:

    I have to go on the plane in two weeks. After doing the lockdown properly for the last three months it’s making me really anxious. I don’t even go to super market or use public transport because I was lucky enough to work from home. Cinemas at this moment…. no thank you. This situation offered such a great chance to streaming services, studios…. to do something original and still make money. This is just too early. Pubs are opening in UK soon, pools as well. I just see this getting worse and soon. I hope I’m wrong.

  8. TheOriginalMia says:

    More people are going to become infected due to the idiots running around without masks. This rush to believe everything is fine is perpetuated by the Trump lapdogs. They are running around saying every is fine and people aren’t questioning the fact the WH has had several high level officials test positive. Pence disappeared for 2 weeks. No one pushed back on them and here we go with cases increasing and ICU wards become swamped again. I’ll be at home until 2021. My dollars won’t be spent at AMC or any other movie theatre. I’m good.

  9. Becks1 says:

    Movie theaters seem like one of the WORST places to go right now. To sit in a theater for 2 or 3 hours?? No thank you.

  10. Case says:

    I just said out loud “Are you f*cking kidding me.” Public health is not political. Science is not political. The fact that the government and now these corporations are allowing it become political, are allowing citizens to dictate public health rules, is RIDICULOUS. It’s like letting a 2-year-old decide they want ice cream for dinner every night just because you don’t want to fight with them about what’s best for their HEALTH.

    • lisanne says:

      Public health is totally political to right-wing folks, who feel their “rights” should not be infringed upon to protect others.

  11. TeaForTwo says:

    I have to think this is about food and beverage sales . . . movie theaters want them, masks may inhibit people from deciding to buy them.

    Masks are about slowing the contagion rate so that hospitals can keep pace. Why, oh why, is that so problematic? Would you rather have them become overwhelmed and return to Shelter In Place???

    • Also Ali says:

      I have to think this is about food and beverage sales . . . movie theaters want them, masks may inhibit people from deciding to buy them.

      Agree. Movie theaters serve so much beyond popcorn and soda now. There are the theaters that have basically wait staff serving meals.

    • Tia says:

      My understanding is that movie theatres either don’t make any money or even lose money on the actual tickets – all their profits come from food and drink sales. If that’s the case, opening with a requirement to wear masks would be useless to them or might even put them in a worse financial position (since they’d have to start paying staff again).

    • Case says:

      I get the F&B issue, but surely requiring masks in common areas would at least be a good idea? Or just whenever you’re not eating and drinking? I don’t support the opening of theme parks and stuff, but Disney Springs is at the very least requiring masks at all times — inside and outside — and the only exception is when guests are eating or drinking. I think that makes more sense. Especially since theaters have the ability to limit capacity on theaters and spread people’s seats apart.

  12. Donn says:

    I just wonder if shirts and shoes are still required or if they’re a political statement in all places. We must have freedom to be idiots.

  13. Marigold says:

    As much as I love going to the movie theatre, I will not be going. Even with a mask, it is a higher risk activity. I will miss it though. Going to a highly anticipated movie is such a fun thing to do.

  14. JoJo says:

    WTF. Aside from the fact that we’re a huge country, this kind of attitude is why the US now has more than 25% of the deaths in the entire world! Masks are not political – they are a public health-driven, science-based tool to help prevent and mitigate transmission. What is wrong with us??!! It’s embarrassing.

  15. Bettyrose says:

    It’s now state law in CA so AMC so congrats AMC you can just enforce the law and claim it’s not on you. Even then, that’s hardly enforceable in the dark.

  16. KellyRyan says:

    A word on Costco, masks required to enter but once in the store people and employees do what they want and many remove them. My husband shops at Costco twice per month was there yesterday. Movie theaters, no. With all of the promotion of local restaurants including the one at the local clubhouse, not one follows the decontamination process recommended by the CDC.

    • Hoot says:

      Our Costco is great, and usually uncrowned, so I go once/month. The first time there (March) I encountered just one person who refused to put on a mask to enter. Management quickly banned him. Each time I’ve been there, everyone was masked at all times. It was refreshing to see because by then I’d lost hope in my fellow humans after going to the local grocery and seeing SO many w/o masks. (It’s recommended but optional, so I avoid it even though it’s much closer.) I’ve been tempted to write a statement on my mask because I am furious w/people (really, who enjoys wearing a mask), but that’s petty and would likely start rage wars. Sigh… like most, I stay home or only go outdoors.

  17. ChillyWilly says:

    This is nuts. There is no ventilation in a theater and people chomping on popcorn and touching all the surfaces. I’m not going near a theater or dine in restaurant until we get a vaccine. I can barely tolerate the grocery store. Last time I went there were so many shoppers without masks on and I had to tell a guy in line behind me (with no mask on) to back up because he kept moving forward a foot away from me even though the store has markers on the floor for social distancing. I don’t think he was doing it purposefully. He just wasn’t too bright. I don’t trust others to do the right thing on their own. These businesses need to make masks mandatory.

    • Bettyrose says:

      An economist I know pointed out to me recently that businesses absolutely have to reopen to survive. I’m doing my part to support local businesses .. who in my area are being very good about following regulations even at the expense of reduced profits. I’ve contributed to gofundmes for some indy theaters and music venues I hope survive. But AMC? Please. They already run on an outdated business model selling crap food at huge profit margins in the golden age of streaming tv. Blockbuster video just left them a message.

  18. Kat says:

    I’m in NY and I thought it was required to wear masks anywhere indoors and outdoors where you can’t socially distance. I mean on LI I haven’t been anywhere that people aren’t following these guidelines. The only place we aren’t wearing masks is outside when no one else is around. Anyway I’m not going to any indoor establishments for a long time. A movie theater is gross during regular times. My top concern is schools in September.

  19. Ryan says:

    Unless you’re wearing a mask that filters out virus particles, you’re only (marginally) protecting others, not really yourself. And most people, in my state at least, cannot be bothered with taking that measure, whether for selfish or altruistic reasons.

    I think we see coverage from areas that are worst hit, and we see people wearing masks all over the news. But in most of America, it’s optional and, in my state, seeing someone wearing a mask is rare outside of medical offices. Never mind seeing them wearing a mask that actually protects them, or is being worn correctly.

    AMC and the like are seeing the forest for the trees. They know most people don’t give a shit and will go out to see a movie. I know I sound cynical but I guess that’s because I am. We Americans have a very short memory.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Ryan,
      Are you saying Americans have a tendency to be short-sighted and easily swayed by slick media campaigns? What possible evidence could you have to support that? 🤷😭😭😭

    • Epic says:

      Shut up you’re not helping, and your wrong

  20. ME says:

    If anyone has actually seen what this virus can do to your body (old and young) you’d think twice about sitting in a f*cking movie theater with many people. It’s not worth it ! The cases in the U.S. are rising. Things are not “better”. The virus is more present than ever. Maybe lives over money should be the most important thing. Be smart people !

  21. court says:

    they basically make all their money off food and beverage sales, so a mask requirement would likely keep them from opening.

  22. Coji says:

    They’re required obviously at the hospital where I work (in an office, no patient contact) but I’ve got one MAGA bitch coworker who refuses to wear one and because our desks are about 7 feet apart they’re letting her get away with it. Every single day it pisses me off. My skin is chaffed from wearing a mask and I get vicious headaches from the ear bands but I still wear it every day, all day because I’m not a fucking sociopath.

    Also, every day she eats nuts from a paper cup from which she pours the nuts into her mouth and ALWAYS shakes the cup first. Clearly bitch is a monster.

    • ME says:

      If masks are required at your work how is this woman getting away with not wearing one? It shouldn’t matter if your desks are 7 feet apart. You are still sharing a space for many hours a day. She could cough or sneeze and you could breathe it in since a cough or sneeze could potentially travel way more than 7 feet. You should go to HR about this.

    • holly hobby says:

      I’d report her to HR. She is also creating a hostile work environment. Throw the book at this nutso Magat.

  23. oldmom says:

    it’s a super political statement and one that I won’t forgive actually. he’s just hung out a big sign that says “AVOID” to any thinking COVID concerned individual. And I shall avoid – and trash talk AMC to everyone I know while I do it.

  24. ME says:

    So does anyone think Halloween will be cancelled this year? It’s my fave holiday but usually the kids are all up in my face as soon as I open the door, huffing and puffing (from running house to house). Even if they wore mask (we know kids will rip them off quickly). I don’t know if Halloween is something I want to do this year. I know it’s a while off but I am sure Covid will still be circulating in October.

  25. Izzy says:

    I guess the movie “Contagion” is about to become reality.

    • holly hobby says:

      Or Outbreak – that’s the first one that gave me the willies. In the movie people got sick sitting in a theater.

  26. Lindy says:

    Good deal. Not that I would venture into a movie theatre anytime before late 2021 at the earliest, but at least I know where this company stands. Let the crazies go see movies without masks, as long as they sign a waiver ahead of time that keeps them from accessing the health care they’ll need. If they want to be a burden on the system so they can go watch movies without masks, eff that.

    I’m in a rage after yesterday’s announcement by the Texas education commissioner mandating in-person school for our kids when we go back (August 18th for us). He left a little leeway for districts to accommodate kids with underlying conditions using distance learning but everyone else has to go back. I’m not sending my kids back.

    So I’m just enraged at these idiots who don’t seem to care about their reckless decisions.

  27. Maida says:

    Wonder if he knows just how many people will take that as a big NOPE to going back to AMC theaters.

    And I agree that it’s about food and beverage sales, as well as about not setting off all the people who buy Trump’s “be macho and don’t wear a mask” garbage.

  28. Lucy says:

    Well done America. The only country to politicise wearing facial masks. A leader reckless & dumb enough to start it and deplorable red voters dumb enough to follow him.

  29. Liz version 700 says:

    I sure hope they don’t need my money. No masks no visit from my family.

  30. Valiantly Varnished says:

    And this is why I wont be stepping foot in a theater until there is a vaccine. Masks are not a “political issue”. They are a safety issue.

  31. Miasys says:

    Yeah, no. Miss me with this. Absolutely a money issue for them, they do not care about public safety. It’s all about the concessions money, as Ashipper posted. I have worked in healthcare for the last 8 years & currently work at a fairly prestigious medical school that is doing an enormous amount of research on Covid-19. Masks save lives by limiting the spread of the virus, hard stop. Yes, wearing a mask can be slightly uncomfortable but get over it. I don’t know how to convince people that they should care about other people.

  32. TeaForTwo says:

    Holy f$#& – they reversed course! I don’t do Twitter much, but were they dragged there? Is that why the change of ‘heart?’

  33. SKF says:

    “Nobody knows what coronavirus will look like in the winter“; except, you know, all the people in the Southern Hemisphere living through winter with coronavirus RIGHT NOW, and all the people in China who lived through the initial coronavirus outbreak in winter, and the Italians whose outbreak started in winter. All of those people. I know, I know, he’s talking about a specifically American business chain and each country is handling things differently; but there ARE a lot of people like him who frequently talk like there are no places outside of the USA and it is amusing and a bit eye-rolly.