AMC Theatres, the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will cut its seating capacity in half in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The chain announced Friday that it will temporarily cap ticket sales for every movie showing to an amount equal to half of the auditorium's normal seating capacity. In auditoriums with more than 500 seats, AMC will further cap ticket sales to a maximum of 250.
The chain said the move was in compliance with the CDC's guidelines on social distancing.
"AMC is proactively taking action to cut in half the number of tickets that we will make available at all our U.S. theatres," CEO Adam Aron said Friday in a statement. "With this action, we are facilitating the 'social distance' between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen."
In addition to reducing the size of its audiences, AMC is also enacting "enhanced" cleaning protocols. At least once per hour, AMC staff members will clean "high-touch point areas," including kiosks, countertops, restroom areas, glass, handrails and doorknobs. Auditoriums will also continued to be cleaned in between each movie screening.
The new changes for seating, which go into effect from March 14 until April 30, come as the COVID-19 virus has forced Hollywood studios to postpone the releases of several high-profile movies, including Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II," Disney's new live-action "Mulan," MGM's new James Bond film "No Time to Die" and Universal's "The Fast and the Furious" sequel "F9."
AMC chief Aron added in his statement, "These are uncharted times in the United States. We are very closely monitoring the guidance of the CDC."
Regal Cinemas also announced Friday that it would be reducing seating capacity by half in its theaters and is “complying, where applicable, with state mandates on social gathering limits,” according to Deadline.
"The health and safety of our customers and staff is very important to us. We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations," Regal said in a statement.