June 9 (UPI) -- AMC Theatres will open 1,000 movie theaters around the world in July, the company announced Tuesday. Already, the largest theater chain in the world has opened 10 locations in Norway, Germany, Spain and Portugal, the company said.
Kansas-based AMC Entertainment closed most of its movie theaters March 17 due to the conornavirus pandemic and furloughed staff, a press statement said.
The company plans to reopen in time to screen July releases of Warner Bros. Tenet, starring Christopher Nolan and Disney's Mulan.
"These are truly unprecedented times. I join with all our employees around the world to offer our sympathies to those affected by the coronavirus, as well as our sincerest gratitude to those on the front lines," said Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC in a statement.
"Our top priorities remain the safety and well-being of our guests and associates," Aron said.
The company is developing special health measures in theaters including personal protection equipment for staff, new cleaning protocols, limited theater capacity and blocked seating, along with electrostatic sprayers and sanitizers.
Theater chain Cinemark also announced that it would reopen in time for Tenet, even if theaters had to limit capacity to 50 percent or less.
Some states like Texas and Georgia have already allowed movie theaters to re-open, but the industry has been slow to get back into business. The California Department of Public Health has said that the state's theaters can start showing movies in the epicenter of cinema on Friday.
Meanwhile, U.S. drive-in theaters have experienced a pandemic renaissance because of their great social distancing potential. Only 315 drive-in theaters are left in the United States, according to www.driveinmovie.com, down from a peak of more than 4,000 in the 1950s.
In New York and New Jersey, pop-up drive-in theaters have been drawing crowds in business parking lots.
Some aging drive-in theaters, like Wicksburg, Ala.'s Continental Drive-in have come back to life, with new owners taking advantage of renewed interest during the pandemic.
"Bringing a drive-in back, it's going to bring a lot of people with their children for a new experience that they haven't had before," Kyle Mitchell, facilities director for VIP Cinemas told WTVY.
"People that have come back that do know what the drive-in experience is all about but I kind of think it's going to be a different experience for a lot of people," Mitchell said.