AMC Theatres on Friday announced “social distancing” measures at its U.S. cinemas to help moderate the spread of the new coronavirus that is spreading across the world.
The nation’s largest theater chain, owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, said it will reduce its seating capacity at its auditoriums by 50%, starting Saturday and continuing until April 30.
The company will accomplish that goal by capping ticket sales for each showtime in each of its theaters’ auditoriums by half. In those auditoriums with more than 500 seats, AMC will limit ticket sales to a maximum of 250, the Leawood, Kan.-based exhibitor said in a statement.
“AMC is also actively complying with all local authorities’ directives on social gathering and is further reducing the availability of tickets to comply with any current or future federal, state or local governmental order,” the company said.
Shares in AMC Entertainment Holdings, which were already down this year over concerns from investors about the rise of rise of streaming, dropped 30% in the last five days amid the coronavirus pandemic. The shares rallied somewhat on Friday, closing at $3.23, up 11%.
The decision comes after state authorities in California moved to ban public gatherings of 250 people or more in order to mitigate the damage from the virus.
The move also follows a slew of studios delaying release dates for potential blockbusters including Disney’s “Mulan.”