AMC Theatres has just endured one of the most traumatic periods in its hundred-year history. As the theater chain looks to reopen 100 of its locations on Aug. 20 after shutting them down last spring during the coronavirus pandemic, it has hit on a novel way to bring back audiences while paying tribute to its past. For one day only, tickets at the theaters will sell for 15 cents, roughly the equivalent of what it cost to watch a movie in 1920. That’s the year that the company’s founders, the Dubinsky Brothers, began operations with a single movie screen in Kansas City, Missouri. Of course, the movies that people will be able to buy tickets to see won’t be new blockbusters. They will be legacy titles such as “Black Panther” and “The Empire Strikes Back.”
AMC is embarking on a phased reopening of its theaters in the United States, with the goal of having approximately two thirds of its more than 600 locations operational in time for the Sept. 3 release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” That does not include venues in major markets such as New York and Los Angeles, where officials have not approved reopening cinemas due to public health concerns.
Starting August 21, the chain will show a number of older films, such as a tenth anniversary edition of “Inception,” as well as “Back to the Future,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Grease” for $5 a ticket.
The few new movies that are opening in advance of “Tenet,” such as the Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged” and “The New Mutants,” will carry 2020 prices of roughly $10, depending on the market.
The theater chain is also offering incentives to members of its subscription program, AMC Stubs A-List, by giving them a $10 credit to use through the end of October. It is also pledging not to increase prices on the subscription service through June 2021. The program enables users to see up to three movies a month for between $20 and $25.
AMC has also instituted new cleaning measures, and is keeping its venues at limited capacity so guests can social distance. Both employees and audience members will be required to wear masks.
The first round of openings includes theaters in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, St. Louis, and other markets.
Brett Lang contributed to this post.