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AMC to offer 15-cent tickets on first day of reopening; Washington theaters to remain closed

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 13, 2020

The AMC River Park Square 20 in downtown Spokane, closed since mid-March because of state pandemic-related restrictions, won’t be allowed to reopen until Spokane County moves to Phase 3 under Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan. (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
The AMC River Park Square 20 in downtown Spokane, closed since mid-March because of state pandemic-related restrictions, won’t be allowed to reopen until Spokane County moves to Phase 3 under Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan. (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
By Emma Epperly The Spokesman-Review

AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, will reopen in the U.S. on Thursday with retro ticket prices of 15 cents per movie, but COVID-19 restrictions in Washington will keep locations in the state closed.

AMC Entertainment, which owns the chain, said Thursday it expects to open the doors to more than 100 cinemas – or about one-sixth of its nationwide locations – on Thursday with throwback pricing for a day.

That doesn’t mean people everywhere will be able to head back to the movies. Many states, including Washington, California and New York, have local regulations that do not allow for indoor theaters to reopen. Washington Locations do not have a reopening date, according to AMC’s website.

As part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan, indoor movie theaters will be allowed to open at 25% capacity under Phase 3. Opening is prohibited until then.

In nearby Idaho, regulations allow for theaters to reopen, but AMC’s sole theater in the state is in Chabbuck, near Pocatello.

Local theaters, like the historic Garland, have been closed since the initial “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” order and don’t plan to reopen until pandemic restrictions allow larger gatherings.

Drive-in theaters have made a resurgence in recent months with the ability to keep social distancing guidelines in place while allowing for a family-friendly outing. Theaters like Hayden Discount Cinema have converted to create a drive-in experience to help stay in business even with limited indoor seating.

AMC theaters have reopened in numerous countries but have remained shuttered in the U.S. since March.

The chain touted the reopening as “Movies in 2020 at 1920 Prices.”

After several false starts because of a summer increase in coronavirus cases throughout much of the U.S., widespread moviegoing is set to resume in late August.

Regal Cinemas, the second-largest chain, is to reopen some U.S. locations on Aug. 21. The chain’s Coeur d’Alene location is among them.

During its opening-day promotion, AMC will show catalog films, including “Ghostbusters,” “Black Panther,” “Back to the Future” and “Grease.” Those older films will continue to play afterward for $5.

AMC confirmed that Disney’s much-delayed “New Mutants” will debut in theaters Aug. 28, with Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” to follow Sept. 3. Warner Bros. is planning to release “Tenet” a week earlier internationally, including in Canada.

A handful of smaller new releases is also planned for late August, including “Unhinged,” a thriller from Solstice Studios with Russell Crowe; and Armando Iannucci’s “Personal History of David Copperfield,” from Disney’s Fox Searchlight.

AMC said Thursday is expects about two-thirds of its theaters will be open in time for “Tenet.”

AMC and other chains have said they will operate at reduced capacity to facilitate social distancing, along with increased theater cleaning and required mask wearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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