Movie Theaters in California Officially Reopening Friday

Hours after news first surfaced suggesting the State of California could allow movie theaters to reopen this weekend, California governor Gavin Newsom and his office made the move official. Effective June 12th, movie theaters and other "family entertainment" businesses within the state can reopen should they abide by new social distancing measures. Other family entertainment businesses include bowling alleys, gyms, and day camps, amongst others.

As of now, the state isn't telling movie theaters to require movie-goers to wear protective masks. One new policy, however, does greatly reduce the capacity of all auditoriums. According to new mandates handed down by Newsom and his team, theaters can only allow occupancy of 25-percent of normal capacities or a maximum of 100 customers, whichever amount is fewer. The California Department of Public Health released a 12-page packet along with the news of the latest batch of reopenings.

Theaters have gradually reopened across the country with their policies in place. Most chains have implemented their own policies in regards to social distancing, such as Cinemark reducing theaters capacities across the country.

“The reality is I don’t think we’re going to be able to get into a full-on rhythm again of product cycles and all that we had prior to COVID-19 until 2022,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said last week. “That’s more production-related than our operation-related because as studios have had to adapt to not being able to do filming and do post-production, they’ve had to move their schedules. Therefore, we’re going to adapt as well.”

Earlier this month, AMC Theatres reported record losses for the first quarter of their fiscal year, one with few major releases prior to being shut down due to the expanding coronavirus pandemic at the time.

“We believe, but cannot guarantee, that the exhibition industry will ultimately rebound and benefit from pent-up social demand for out-of-home entertainment, as government restrictions are lifted and home sheltering subsides. However, the ultimate significance of the pandemic, including the extent of the adverse impact on our financial and operational results, will be dictated by the currently unknowable duration and the effect on the overall economy and of responsive governmental regulations, including shelter-in-place orders of the pandemic and mandated suspension of operations,” the company said in an SEC filing announcing its preliminary earnings and complicated outlook.

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Film and television sets are also allowed to reopen and pick production pack up under a similar set of policies.

Cover photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images