Cinemark is temporarily closing all 345 of its U.S. theatres effective March 18, "as a proactive measure in support of the health and safety of its employees, guests and communities."
The Plano-based theater chain is responding to the outbreak of COVID-19, a virus that has sickened thousands across the country while forcing many people to isolate themselves at home to avoid spreading the contagion.
They did not say when they hoped to reopen the theaters to moviegoers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that people not gather in groups larger than 50; President Donald Trump on Monday dropped that number to 10. Movie theaters often have the capacity to hold hundreds of people.
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“Through these absolutely unprecedented and evolving times, one thing will not change, and that is Cinemark’s dedication to its team members and moviegoers,” said Mark Zoradi, Cinemark CEO. “The decision to close our U.S. theatres was incredibly tough, but we know it is the right thing to do as global coronavirus concerns continue to escalate. We will closely monitor recommendations of national and local governmental health organizations and look forward to inviting everyone to once again enjoy experiencing the movies with Cinemark.”
The chain said they would give those in their rewards program more time to redeem points, extending the expiration of those rewards until June 30.
They are also pausing all Movie Club memberships since they cannot be used at this time -- the monthly fee will not be charged but unused credits will remain.
Meantime, Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC 5 parent NBCUniversalm said on Monday it will make its current and upcoming films available for on-demand rental, becoming the first major studio to turn directly to home viewing in light of the virus.
The studio said it will put movies currently in theaters — “Invisible Man,” “The Hunt,” “Emma” — up for rental on-demand beginning as early as Friday. It also said that “Trolls World Tour," one of the only major releases left on the April film release calendar, will open “day-and-date,” debuting in theaters and on-demand services simultaneously. A 48-hour rental will cost $19.99.
Cinemark will continue to provide updates on its theatres and status as the situation continues to evolve at www.cinemark.com.