Movie theaters start to reopen after COVID-19 closures cost billions in revenue

BENSALEM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — After forced closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, some movie theaters are finally back up and running. But it isn't business as usual.

AMC, the country's largest movie theater chain, reported more than $2 billion in lost revenue for the first quarter of 2020.

But now their theaters and others are starting to reopen, even if it's not to a full crowd.

Wearing a mask, and armed with hand sanitizer, Ryan Simmons ventured to the movies for the first time in months.

"Going to the movies has always been a big part of my life, especially during summertime," he said. "I go four, five times to catch all the big blockbusters, so this was a tough summer to not be able to sit in a nice air-conditioned theater. It was really nice to get back to it at the very tail end."

With many new releases being postponed or shown on different outlets, some theaters are getting back in the swing of things by screening hits from summers past.

Simmons spent his Saturday night at a theater in Bensalem, Bucks County watching the Leonardo DiCaprio hit, Inception, which was released 10 years ago.

Capacity in the theater was set at 30%, but he estimated there were far fewer people, which made him feel comfortable.

"You gave them your name, they gave you a bag," he described. "Inside the bag was butter, salt. Your cups were in there, so you really limted the contact."

Simmons is in the minority when it comes to going to the movies. A recent survey by global data intelligence company Morning Consult indicated 17% of consumers feel comfortable venturing out to theaters.

But for folks in Philadelphia who, like Simmons, are itching to see a movie, they get their chance when city theaters are allowed to reopen September 8. But even then, food and drinks won't be permitted while watching.