Movie theaters have long acted as a refuge in times of war and recession. Their screens have flickered virtually unabated for the last century. But the coronavirus presents a rare case and an acute crisis for a medium already under threat by the advent of streaming services.
With few exceptions, movie theaters across North America are remaining open while Broadway theaters, sports arenas and museums close their doors to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
But theaters are adjusting to bans on large gatherings, in some cases closing bigger theaters or limiting the number of maximum ticket buyers.
AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas, the country's two largest chains, on Friday each said they would fill their theaters no more than 50%. AMC said it would begin the policy today and keep it until the end of April.
Local AMC theaters include AMC Classic Jefferson Pointe 18 and AMC Classic Fort Wayne 20 on Dupont Road. Regal Cinemas' local theater is Regal Coldwater Crossing.
Cinema Center on Berry Street downtown is also limiting ticket sales, to 40 seats in the main theater and 20 in the theater's Spectator Lounge “in order to make it possible to put – at minimum – two seats of space between you and the nearest patron,” the theater said in a statement.
Theaters around even outbreak hotspots like Seattle and New Rochelle, New York, have continued to operate, including a Regal theater in New Rochelle.
In many parts of the world, cinemas have already shuttered. China, the world's second largest movie market, closed its theaters more than a month ago. More recently, Italy, India, Greece, Poland, Lebanon and Kuwait have followed suit. On Friday, Europe extended the cinema shutdown in most theaters in Spain and Germany, as well as those in Denmark and Norway.