After backlash, AMC Theatres reverses decision on optional mask wearing


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  4 weeks ago  •  27 comments

By:   Claire Atkinson

After backlash, AMC Theatres reverses decision on optional mask wearing
America's largest theater chain was forced to backtrack Friday after saying it would allow customers to choose whether they wanted to wear a mask in the cinema.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The cinema chain AMC put itself in the crosshairs of the coronavirus culture wars this week, announcing that it would allow customers to choose whether they wanted to wear masks in theaters. On Friday, responding to a sharp backlash, it had to do a U-turn.

AMC's chief executive Adam Aron originally told Variety the company would not make masks mandatory in some areas of the country when it reopens theaters in July. He added that he would be wearing a mask when visiting an AMC theater and would be "leading by example."

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

Social media response was swift, with some on Twitter saying the CEO's comments were "irresponsible."

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"I was really on the fence about continuing my monthly AMC A-List membership and going back WITH a mask. #AMC, thanks for the clarity," wrote one former customer, who posted a screenshot of her membership cancellation confirmation.

Others said they would exercise their freedom not to wear a mask. "I will be the first in line at AMC theater here. I refuse to wear a mask," one person wrote on Twitter.

In a statement released on Friday, AMC said: "This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks. At AMC Theaters, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy."

"Those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or allowed to stay," the statement continued.

On its first-quarter earnings call on June 9, the Leawood, Kansas-based company went to great lengths to assure the public it would limit attendance and institute high levels of cleaning and purify the air to keep the virus at bay. The company even highlighted its partnership with Clorox and Harvard's School of Public Health to develop an effective safety plan for getting customers back to the movies. Arguably, AMC's very existence is riding on customers returning to the cinema, since its finances have been precarious in recent months, with zero revenue coming in the door.

Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse theater chain told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday it would require customers to wear masks to be admitted when it opens. "This is not political," it said. The company will, however, allow people to remove masks while they are eating and drinking.

Regal Cinemas, which is starting to reopen theaters in some states as of July 10, said on its website that all employees will be required to wear masks, but does not specify rules for customers.

Cinemark, the nation's third-largest theater chain, also said employees will have to wear masks, but said guests will only be "strongly encouraged" to do so.

According to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a mask helps contain the COVID-19 virus. The agency advises on its website that people should wear "cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

Claire Atkinson

Claire Atkinson is the senior media editor for NBC News.


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Buzz of the Orient
1  Buzz of the Orient    4 weeks ago

I wouldn't be surprised that anti-maskers will just remove their masks once they are seated.  Will the theatres then require a squad of ushers to yank them out of their seats?   What a conundrum. 

Greg Jones
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    4 weeks ago

Kinda silly to wear a mask in a mostly empty theater. Can't believe people still go to movie houses when so many other entertainment options are available.

Anyhow, the controversy continues.....

Paula Bartholomew
1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    4 weeks ago

I rarely go to the movies these days.  When I used to, ushers were always going up and down the aisles mostly to make sure people weren't on their phones or putting their feet up on an empty seat in front of them.  If it was an R rated movie, they checked for kids who snuck in to see the movie.

1.2.1  Kathleen  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.2    4 weeks ago

Now they have those recliners with cup holders and trays.

There is even a theater that you can be served food to your recliner. 

1.2.2  MUVA  replied to  Kathleen @1.2.1    4 weeks ago

Now if I could just sit in my underwear all would be good.

1.2.3  Kathleen  replied to  MUVA @1.2.2    4 weeks ago


Freedom Warrior
1.2.4  Freedom Warrior  replied to  Kathleen @1.2.1    4 weeks ago

Precisely.   As an avid moviegoer and a member of Stubs A-List, for me there is no better way to see a movie.

There is nothing like the big screen and I don't have fight with my wife over the volume.

The loungers are essential and I can enjoy all my favorites from my seat.

1.2.5  Kathleen  replied to  Freedom Warrior @1.2.4    4 weeks ago

It's nice, it's the only way I will go out to see a movie. I have long legs so it is more comfortable for me. Plus going to the restroom is a breeze.  You don't have to climb on everyone. Just put your feet up and enjoy. I agree, nothing like the big screen and sound.

Freedom Warrior
1.2.6  Freedom Warrior  replied to  Kathleen @1.2.5    4 weeks ago

For sure.  I could go on and on about the virtues of the theater.  Naturally I enjoy movies at home as well.   But honestly, there is no comparison.  The theatrical impact of watching a movie like Midway on the big is so visceral. 

I practically wanted to hang myself after viewing A Star is Born at Angelika.

The Joker, now that one was utterly repulsive.  Probably much safer screening it from home.

However, the one concession I would make is that the gap between home and theater has narrowed.   Unlike the gap between listening to recordings and taking in a live musical performances.

1.2.7  Kathleen  replied to  Freedom Warrior @1.2.6    4 weeks ago

The only thing right now that annoys me is all the previews.  The epic movies are great on the big screen.

2  Kavika     4 weeks ago

The last place I would go is to a movie theatre mask or no mask. 

They probably won't survive the pandemic.

Paula Bartholomew
2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @2    4 weeks ago

The last movie I went to was one of the X Men movies and only because I heard Hugh Jackman streaked naked in it.   These days I just wait for a movie to hit cable.   Movie theaters are just not worth the money it costs.

2.1.1  Ender  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1    4 weeks ago

Ha. The last movie I actually sat in a theatre for was a Star Wars one. And that was still several years ago. Before that one, my last one was Who Framed Rodger Rabbit.

It is cheaper to rent a movie and sit at home comfortable.

Paula Bartholomew
2.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Ender @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

Plus you have your own bathroom and you can eat better food.

2.1.3  Ender  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.2    4 weeks ago

And light up a doobie in the lobby.

Paula Bartholomew
2.1.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Ender @2.1.3    4 weeks ago


2.1.5  sandy-2021492  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.2    4 weeks ago

And the sound isn't too loud.  It seems to me lately that theater movies have gone from "annoyingly loud" to "deafening".  Action movies are so loud as to be painful.

3  Kathleen    4 weeks ago


I will watch my movies at home and wait for them to come out on Blue-Ray.

Dean Moriarty
4  Dean Moriarty    4 weeks ago

I'm no fan of Amc theaters myself. Occasionally I go to a low key outdoor drive-in in the small town of Minturn. 


It Is ME
5  It Is ME    4 weeks ago

Bring back the "Drive-in Theater" !

Loved those things ! jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif

This "Shaming EVERYONE" crap has got to go ! jrSmiley_104_smiley_image.jpg

Greg Jones
5.1  Greg Jones  replied to  It Is ME @5    4 weeks ago

Ah yes...memories of warm and sweaty evenings at the drive-in come flooding back to me

Freedom Warrior
5.1.1  Freedom Warrior  replied to  Greg Jones @5.1    4 weeks ago

Alright let's be honest, the real advantage of the the drive-in was what you could get away with on a date.  Otherwise in the theater one had to settle for copping a feel.

It Is ME
5.1.2  It Is ME  replied to  Greg Jones @5.1    4 weeks ago

Cars have A/C now. jrSmiley_18_smiley_image.gif

The one's in the trunk might have a bit of a warm time though. jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

6  MUVA    4 weeks ago


7  sandy-2021492    4 weeks ago

I only go to a theater 2 or 3 times a year anymore.  It's a much more pleasant experience at thome - snacks are cheaper, and I can pause the movie if I need to use the bathroom.  Nobody talks, and the dog keeps my lap warm.  And I can wear pajamas.

There is an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema near here, where food and alcohol are served.  I go there once in a blue moon, but it's pretty pricey.  I have to say, they're great about keeping people quiet and off their phones.

I wouldn't go to a theater right now, unless they were limiting seating to promote distancing.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
8  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    3 weeks ago

I love the movies and getting my popcorn with my 20W weight grease on top and M&M's


Not with a mask on. 

I'll wait till after the pandemic thankyou. 

On the other hand, slim pickings on the TV right now, since nothing is in production. The only new series I'm watching are "The 100" and "Yellowstone", season 3 starts tomorrow night, I think.  

9  Tacos!    3 weeks ago

How exactly am I supposed to eat popcorn and drink soda with a mask on my face?

If I can go to a restaurant and eat without a mask, why can't I go to the movies without a mask? I mean, I don't mind wearing one in the lobby, but as long as there is some separation between groups in the theater, I don't see a need to wear a mask in there.


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