[The information in this article has been updated: June 19, 2020]

I love going to the movie more than anything in the world. But I don't want to catch the coronavirus. I just don't. Not for Tenet, not for Black Widow...not even for Steven Spielberg's West Side Story...which is saying something if you know me. 

I'm not against going to the theater, I just want to make sure people inside take it very seriously and wear masks. 

That's why I was so annoyed that AMC decided to open 450 of its locations on July 15th without making mask-wearing mandatory for patrons. They expect to be almost fully operational by the time that Disney’s Mulan debuts on July 24th and Warner Bros. Tenet comes July 31st.

And as a stubs pass holder, I think that's kind of bullshit. 

Well, AMC heard the ire of its customers and have reversed course. They will now require all AMC guests nationwide to wear masks, regardless of the what the policies on mask usage are in different states and counties.

The company issued the following statement:

“At AMC, we have been consulting with top scientists and health experts to create a broad, sweeping, far-reaching health and safety effort to make AMC Theatres safe for our guests and associates when our theatres reopen in July. Among many elements of that comprehensive plan was a requirement for our associates all to wear masks nationwide, as well as a requirement for our guests all to wear masks in the many parts of the country that will require it. In those areas of the country where masks will not be required, we nonetheless planned to strongly encourage mask usage by guests, and fully expected that the vast majority would do so. That policy on guest mask usage, which is directly comparable with our major competitors and many other highly regarded retailers, was announced yesterday afternoon.

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 Theatres, 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. As we reopen theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.

We will constantly monitor the scientific community’s latest thinking as to the efficacy of mask usage. We also will be looking at the varying health conditions in specific localities around our theatres all across the country. This will help us to determine what our mask policy will be as we go forward, as well as to make any other needed changes to this policy.

Guests coming to our theatres may bring their own masks of course, but for those who do not have one, masks will be available at our theatre box offices at a nominal $1.00 price. Those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or allowed to stay.

We also want to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation to our many guests who took the time to communicate their views. We will continue to listen and continue to monitor the changing nature of the coronavirus, adapting and adjusting our policies accordingly.”

AMC Cinemas

In California, it's mandatory to wear masks everywhere in public...so it made zero sense that the safety precautions would be taken seriously walking to the theater but wouldn't when you get there... and sit in an enclosed space for 2 hours.

I know someone is going to comment about "freedom" but that's not what's at stake here. Your freedom cannot impose danger to my health. You may not want to wear a mask, but you could be spreading the disease without symptoms showing. And I don't want to sit next to your inconsiderate face during Tenet and share air for 3 1/2 hours.

Before the company's about-face, AMC's CEO Adam Aron told Variety, “We didn’t rush to reopen, there were some jurisdictions in some states, such as Georgia and Texas, that allowed people to reopen theaters in mid-May. We opted to remain closed, so we could give the country time to get a better handle on coronavirus. We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely.”

Fine. But no masks? 

How is that safe for workers or patrons? 

Workers have to wear masks but every piece of info shows that it will put them in danger dealing with those who refuse to wear masks. 

AMC wants to slow roll people into their auditoriums and will only make available 30% of capacity in every showtime. That will increase to 40% and then 50% capacity. AMC hopes that it will be able to have half of its auditoriums full by Labor Day and projects that it will be at full capacity by Thanksgiving.

So during the peak of flu season...with no vaccine in sight...with no masks. 

What the hell were they thinking? 

I get the trouble here. AMC filed for bankruptcy and is going through a hard time. A lot of people are. But rather than making this about politics...they should've made it about health. And every major study says that if 80% of us wear masks we can effectively stop this virus in its tracks. 

And yet, AMC's initial stance seemed to ignore health concerns.

“In my heart of hearts, I think we can manage AMC through this crisis,” said Aron. “There are no guarantees and nobody knows what coronavirus will look like in the winter or how long it will take to get a vaccine, but I can tell you that we have a very able management team here. We’re going to make every effort to make sure that AMC continues to be well-positioned as a leader of the movie theater industry.”

This is just a corporate speech,. 

If the economy has to shut down again because theaters are cool with people not wearing masks, they are part of their own problem. 

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask-wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

Leading by what example? 

If you want to save the theatrical experience and industry you should mandate mask-wearing, otherwise, you create a petri dish where a superspread is likely to happen. 

All so people can eat popcorn. 

Movie theaters are like my church. And it was weird seeing them offer us up to crucifixion so they can sell Milk Duds. 

AMC did the right thing by changing their decision and requiring customers to wear masks—obviously for the health of those who pay to see movies in its theaters but also for the health of its bottom line. Sick people don't often go to theaters...especially when those theaters experience another round of lockdowns.

So, wear a mask. It's now AMC's company policy. 

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