As a precaution due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy, AMC Theatres boss Adam Aron mentioned today on the exhib chain’s 4Q 2019 earnings call that the exhibitor has closed 22 of its 47 theaters in the country for a week. Since Monday, the number of cases of the coronavirus has spiked from a reported 219 cases on Monday to a range of 400-615 cases with 17 deaths according to reports.
Most of the closings are in Northern Italy in the Milan area. Already Aron says, “entities in Milan have reopened to the public, and there’s an increasing view in Milan that there might have been an overreaction.”
“We decided to close for a week; that’s what all the local government and medical authorities thought was the right thing to do. Milan and its environment aren’t on a quarantine or lock down. We did it to cooperate with local government as a precaution,” added Aron.
Aron emphasized, “AMC Theatres has no theaters in China, South Korea or Iran” and “the economic impact has been minimal” from the coronavirus. How big of an economical impact? Not much: “between $500K and $1M for a week’s closure,” which the exec says “won’t be noticed when we wrap up AMC for the year.”
“In the U.S. and Northern Europe, we’ve felt little or no pain,” said Aron who mentioned that the chain is taking advice from government and medical experts in guaranteeing the safety of the chain’s “millions of” guests across 15 countries in 1,000 theaters.
Throughout Italy, schools, universities and cinemas have been closed and several public events such as the Carnival in Venice cancelled. Eleven towns at the center of the outbreak, encompassing around 55K according to the BBC have been quarantined. And of course, all of this have many concerned that it could push Italy into a recession.
Aron’s only concern from the coronavirus is “if it scares moviegoers in Italy or elsewhere, or causes people to return to theaters slowly, but its way too early to start prognosticating what’s going to happen.”
On Monday, Venice Italy’s local government, in addition to putting a stop to all public gatherings, put a halt to Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 7 in the floating city. The production was planned to shoot there for three weeks, before moving on to other locales. The studio sent crew home in response and is monitoring the situation.