Let’s Go to the Movies, Let’s Go See the Mask

A Review of AMC’s Safe and Clean Policies

AMC+provides+safety+precaution+banners+in+theaters+and+on+their+website.+Picture+via+amctheaters.com+

AMC provides safety precaution banners in theaters and on their website. Picture via amctheaters.com

Jadyn Forman

     After nearly 6 months of closure, AMC Theaters has started to reopen its doors. The movie theater chain invited customers to return to Tampa theaters starting Aug. 20 to enjoy classic films on the big screen. , starting with a little over 100 on this date and 300 more in the next 2 weeks. The theaters have

implemented new “AMC Safe and Clean” policies and procedures that would lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure to guests.

   So the question is raised: Just because you can go to the movie theaters now, should you? I decided to answer this question for myself. 

Due to the lack of new releases, AMC was mainly showing more classic movies. While there were some new releases, such as “New Mutants” and “Words on Bathroom Walls,” most of the movies playing were rereleases of popular movies, like “Rocky II” or “Spiderman: Homecoming.” I decided to go see the 90s classic “Jurassic Park” because, despite its popularity, I have never seen it.

    After deciding on “Jurassic Park”, I then went on to buy my ticket at my local AMC theater, AMC Westshore 14. To comply with social distancing, the actual theaters in the AMC were only at 40% or less capacity. Once your party selects their seats, depending on the size of the theater, either the seats next to your group are blocked off or those seats and the one behind and in front of your group are. 

    Another interesting aspect of the new ticket-buying system is the price of the tickets. To entice people to come to the movies, AMC is offering lower ticket prices and special deals on food and beverages. The price of my ticket was only $5.

   Once I stepped inside the movie theater, I was struck by how different it looked. What I first noticed was how there were only three other small groups of people walking around, far fewer than I would usually see.

   The second thing I noticed was how many signs there were reminding us of AMC’s “Safe and Clean” policies. I’m not exaggerating when I say you could not look anywhere without seeing some sort of reminder about social distancing. 

   One of these reminders was of AMC’s requirement for everyone to be wearing a mask. While I had brought one, AMC did have the option to purchase one if someone was not wearing one. 

   One thing that I found interesting about AMC’s new policies that I hadn’t seen in use in other places was discouraging the use of cash. There was no one working the ticket stands, only the machines that one could use to buy tickets using a credit, debit, or gift card. That means if you wanted to buy tickets using

the cash you had to go all the way to guest services. Cash was also not allowed to be used to purchase food or beverages, however; they did have the option to purchase a gift card using cash at guest services and then use that to buy snacks.

   Anywhere where you would have to interact with an employee there was a plastic partition. A new stand was set up for the ticket collector using such a partition. If you wanted condiments for your snacks, including extra butter for popcorn, you had to ask for them from an employee instead of using the usual self-service bar. In addition to those precautions, refills were not allowed so that the Coca-Cola machines wouldn’t become contaminated. 

   There were many disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer dispensers located throughout the AMC, which I found helpful because I had forgotten to bring my own.

   Once inside the theaters themselves, the lower capacity and social distancing policies were very plain to see. There were only 9 other people in the theater and guests were very spread out, even for the somewhat small theater I was in.

   Before the movie started, AMC played a message to yet again remind us of their social distancing guidelines. These reminders included the fact that masks were required even during the movie, except for when eating and drinking. 

   While I found all of the guidelines mentioned above satisfactory, I should mention some of the aspects of the experience I was not fond of. 

 The one place that AMC did not seem to have any reminders of social distancing and good hygiene was in the restrooms. None of the sinks or stalls were blocked off, nor were there any signs reminding people to wash their hands and some instructions for doing so effectively, as I have seen in other public restrooms. 

   Also, while AMC did have a policy against getting refills, my brother did not have any issue getting a refill of his ICEE.

   While this is not something AMC had complete control over, I will bring up that during my movie, one of the groups in the theater was often not wearing their masks even though they were not eating or drinking anything. Despite there being a lot of distance between us, it still rubbed me the wrong way. I think it might have been a good idea for AMC to police people better about wearing masks, even though it may have been a bit distracting.

   However, despite these few drawbacks, I will say that I genuinely think that AMC is doing all that they can to comply with social distancing and the promotion of good hygiene while still giving you a good movie theater experience. They are cleaning the theaters constantly while also trying to make sure each individual does their part to keep everyone safe.

   If you are on the fence about whether or not to return to the movie theaters, I would advise you to wait to buy your ticket so you can see how many other people will be in the movie theater with you so you can see if it is too many people for your comfort level. 

   Some people may not be comfortable yet with the idea of sitting in an enclosed space with strangers for 2 hours, more or less, and that makes complete sense and perfectly understandable. If you ask me though, I think that if you’ve been dying to go back to the movie theaters and your family is at low risk for COVID-19, you should go for it.