AMC Theatres will require all of its customers to wear masks when it reopens its theaters nationwide next month, the company said Friday.
It was a quick reversal for the world’s largest movie theater chain, which said on Thursday guests would be required to wear masks only in areas of the country where masks are mandatory.
The company was harshly criticized on social media following remarks from CEO Adam Aron to Variety, in which he said that the chain would not require masks to avoid being “drawn into a political controversy.”
Aron echoed that sentiment in an interview with CNN Business on Thursday, saying “we want to keep the politics out of our theaters” and “we didn’t want to step into that controversy.”
“So what we’re doing is we’re encouraging people to wear a mask, but not necessarily requiring it,” Aron said on Thursday to CNN.
On Friday, AMC and Aron admitted that the company made a mistake.
“This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” Aron said in a statement on Friday. “At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy.”
Aron added that “the speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies” is a “reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.”
AMC said that it will also sell masks for $1 at its box offices.
The theater chain announced on Thursday that it is set to reopen its more than 600 US theaters next month with new safety and health measures in effect to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
The new health and sanitation program, titled “AMC Safe & Clean,” will include measures such as initially capping movie showtimes at 30% of a theater’s seating capacity, disinfecting seating areas nightly using electrostatic sprayers, upgrading its ventilation systems and requiring every AMC employee to wear masks while in the theater.
Aron said on Thursday he might see a double feature when the chain reopens next month.
“You can be sure that I’ll be wearing a mask,” he said.