U.S. movie theaters nationwide are shutting down after President Donald Trump announced new guidelines urging against gatherings of more than 10 people because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The trade web site, Deadline, estimated that the number of movie theaters closing today in U.S. and Canada went from around 200 Monday morning to well past 3,000 by evening according to its sources.
Regal Cinema's the nation's second-largest theater chain, said Monday that would close all cinemas beginning Tuesday. AMC Theaters, the largest theater circuit, didn't immediately respond to messages. Earlier in the day, AMC said it would limit audiences to less than 50 people for every screening to facilitate social distancing. Deadline, reported late Monday that the chain was "holding the line" and trying to remain open in whatever city or state was not shutting theaters, bars and restaurants down.
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Bow Tie Cinemas, the country's 8th largest movie chain operating in six states, released a statement that read: "Bow Tie Cinemas is committed to the health and safety of our customers, staff members, and the greater moviegoing community. State and local governments have issued closing mandates for theaters, casinos, gyms, bars, restaurants and other public spaces. Effective Monday, March 16th, all Bow Tie Cinemas locations in all states will temporarily close."
The Alamo Drafthouse, which pioneered cocktails and meals beyond hot dogs at movie theaters, also shuttered 40 of its 41 locations. "We are deeply saddened to announce that all Alamo Drafthouse Cinema corporate-owned locations, and all but one* franchise-owned locations, are now closed until further notice," the company said in a statement. The one Alamo theater that remains in operations is located in Winchester, Va.
In addition, the chain said, "To try and assist as many staff members as possible, we’re working with the Emergency Assistance Foundation to expand and streamline our Alamo Family Fund in order to be able to respond to the increased need for emergency assistance by those affected. Alamo Drafthouse, through the AlamoGives initiative, has committed up to $2 million to this relief fund." On Sunday, the mayors of New York and Los Angeles ordered their cities' theaters closed. Theaters in Massachusetts and Quebec also shuttered. Overseas, most European cinemas have shut down, as have those in China, India and elsewhere.
Over the weekend, ticket sales plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at the box office for U.S. and Canadian theaters. Not since a quiet September weekend in 2000 has weekend box office revenue been so low, according to data firm Comscore. More people went to the movies the weekend after Sept. 11, 2001.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
The Associated Press contributed to this report