An empty AMC movie theatreImage copyright
Reuters

The world’s biggest movie chain has warned it could run out of money by the end of the year, citing a plunge in film-going and delayed movie releases amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite reopening the majority of its theatres, AMC Entertainment Holdings said attendance remained down 85% in the US and 74% elsewhere.

AMC says it is looking to raise money.

The warning follows rival Cineworld’s recent decision to temporarily close its cinemas in the US and UK.

AMC, which has previously said it is spending about $100m a month, told investors that it expected its cash to “be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021”.

The amount of money needed is “material”, the firm added.

“There is a significant risk that these potential sources of liquidity will not be realised or that they will be insufficient to generate the material amounts of additional liquidity that would be required until the company is able to achieve more normalised levels of operating revenues,” the firm warned in a filing with US financial regulators.

‘We could lose movie-going forever’

AMC, which is controlled by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, operated more than 1,000 cinemas globally prior to the pandemic.

While most are in the US, it also has more than 300 international locations via its Odeon and UCI Cinema subsidiaries.

In the US, restrictions due to the virus have kept theatre capacity limited to 20%-40%. And in some key markets, such as California and New York, the firm’s cinemas have not yet reopened.

The industry has also been rocked by decisions to postpone releases of big-budget films such as Wonder Woman 1984 and James Bond movie No Time To Die, which is now due for release in April 2021.

In a recent interview, Wonder Woman director

The bad news for the movie business keeps piling up, enough that B. Riley analyst Eric Wold further cut his box office forecasts for both this year and 2021, before suggesting something of a return to old levels in 2022.

But in the meantime, the pandemic pinch that left theaters shut for months and Hollywood studios rescheduling most of their slates into next year or beyond continues to batter the business.

The latest news includes U.K. exhibitor chain Vue saying it will partially close a quarter of its screens during the week. The chain said in a statement that it will close 21 of its 87 theaters Tuesday through Thursday, beginning next week, “to ensure that our business is financially well-placed to withstand the uncertainty ahead.”

The move is similar to one by British competitor Odeon. Cineworld, which also owns the No. 2 U.S. chain Regal, took an even more drastic step, closing all its U.K. and U.S. locations for the next several weeks.

The situation is even more grim for B&B Theatres, the sixth-largest chain in the United States. The company warned that it was a few months away from bankruptcy if it doesn’t receive new content or government aid.

No. 1 U.S. chain AMC issued a similar warning last summer, then restructured its debt, cut a landmark revenue-sharing deal with NBCUniversal, and said it planned to issue 15 million new shares of stock. In response to the Cineworld closures, AMC said last week that it would keep theaters open and strive to open more, depending in part on potential revenues from that NBCU deal.

But the situation is ugly overall for the industry. Cineworld’s closure announcement came soon after MGM pushed back the

Brock Bagby, the executive vice president of B&B Theatres, next to his father Bob Bagby, the CEO.

B&B Theatres

B&B Theatres, the sixth-largest cinema chain in the U.S., has been operating for nearly 100 years. Its owners now say it is months away from filing for bankruptcy protection.

The family-owned business has 48 theaters in eight states and was forced to shutter all of those locations in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. A handful of the company’s theaters were able to reopen to the public in June, but the majority didn’t until August.

During that time, B&B Theatres was unable to pay full rent and had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair its projectors because the machinery had sat unused for so long. With Hollywood delaying the release of major blockbusters until next year, Brock Bagby, an executive vice president at B&B Theatres, said there’s little hope the business can keep running.

“We are probably a few months out if nothing changes,” he said. “If we run the course that we are running now, we are probably a few months out. It’s bad.”

Bagby is part of the fourth generation of his family to operate the theater chain. His father, Bob Bagby, is the CEO, and his siblings, Bobbie Bagby Ford and Brittanie Bagby Baker, also hold executive vice president roles. 

Brock Bagby has been working with the National Association of Theatre Owners as well as with rival theater chains to get relief for cinemas. He said his sister Bobbie, who oversees the company’s marketing, has made hundreds of calls to government officials lobbying for financial aid. 

“The government shut us down, so we would hope they’d help us,” Bagby said. “I mean, we didn’t shut ourselves down. And that’s the thing that’s so hard, and

The rules right now in Michigan are a bit of a mess.

But no matter how you draw it up, the last batch of businesses proactively closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic can reopen Friday, Oct. 9.

The list of places that can reopen includes theaters, performance venues, amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, roller rinks, ice rinks, trampoline parks, carnival or amusement rides, water parks and other similar recreational and entertainment facilities.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-183 – issued Sept. 25 – allowed these businesses to reopen Friday. There’s an argument they could have opened as soon as last Friday, however, as Michigan’s executive orders were struck down by a state Supreme Court ruling that day.

Whitmer’s team argued the orders still have merit for three to four weeks, but other experts disagree. While that question remains in limbo, these entertainment venues are now off the hook from either angle.

Friday marks the first day every Michigan industry can open its businesses under Whitmer’s executive orders – albeit with restrictions.

One exception is bars with 70% of their sales coming from alcohol must still be closed inside, per the orders, although they can operate in outdoor spaces.

Moore Theaters has five theaters in southwest Michigan and are among the venues ready to open Friday for the first time since the pandemic began.

“It’s not a free-for-all,” said Scott Moore, vice president of Moore Theaters. “We’re not going back to 100% (capacity). We’re still going to have to still do these things to make sure we get over this pandemic.”

There was no consideration to opening early, since it takes a few weeks to sort out logistics of getting films in, Moore said. The biggest picture debuting this weekend is “The War

Despite being given the OK to reopen their doors, San Francisco movie theaters will remain closed.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the California and Nevada chapter of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO CV/NV) said San Francisco theaters have elected to remain closed due to a ban on the sale of concessions.

Additionally, limits on seating capacity also are a concern for theaters in the area, one of the nation’s largest moviegoing markets.

“While NATO of CA/NV and its members are grateful that San Francisco city officials are reopening theaters in the city, their proposed solution makes it economically impossible for our members to reopen and significantly limits the moviegoing experience for our audiences,” the chapter said in a statement.

FILMMAKERS APPEAL TO CONGRESS TO SAVE MOVIE THEATERS

San Francisco movie theaters have elected to remain closed due to the ban on the sale of concessions. (Getty Images)

Of course, the announcement is a blow to the box office as studios hope business bounces back by the end of the year, in time for potentially lucrative properties such as “Death on the Nile” and “Wonder Woman 1984.”

“While we respect and thank [San Francisco] Mayor [London] Breed for her decision to allow movie theaters to reopen, the restrictions in place present an insurmountable financial challenge for our members to do so and are preventing thousands of workers from returning to work,” NATO CA/NV’s Milton Moritz said in a statement.

CINEWORLD TO CLOSE IN THE US AND UK AFTER ‘NO TIME TO DIE’ DELAY LEAVES IT WITH NO NEW RELEASES TO MARKET

He added: “Our members have taken the steps to meet or exceed expert-backed health and safety measures, and we