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Movie Theaters Failed: The Mask Messaging Controversy

Team Stardust
June 24, 2020

Movie theaters have been slowly reopening across America over the past few weeks, but not without controversy.

Large cinema chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark have implemented additional safety measures to ensure physical distancing and to provide theatergoers with a clean environment. However, all three cinema chains initially only ‘recommended’ theater goers wear masks if the theater is located in a state that does not have a public mask mandate in place. Queue the controversy.

The initial ‘mask optional’ comments did not gain much news coverage until the CEO of AMC, Adam Aron, gave an explanation behind the decision. He said, “We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy.”

Despite the attempt to avoid controversy, AMC and other theater chains were thrown right into the political fire. Later, Aron doubled down on his argument and said, “The U.S. is a big country and the coronavirus situation is different from state to state, locality to locality,” citing how states like Kansas have much fewer cases compared to hotspots like New York or California. Aron ended his argument by bemoaning the fact that wearing masks has become a political issue, “It’s unfortunate that it’s become a political issue, but it has.”

Aron’s comments prompted social media users to use #BoycottAMC, which caught AMC and its competitors attention. Now, AMC, Regal, and Alamo Drafthouse will all require theatergoers to wear masks upon entry to all locations while the outlier, Cinemark, is moving forward with its ‘masks optional’ policy. This controversy has made many movie lovers wonder: is it actually safe to go back to the movies?

Major theater chains have made new policies to provide an additional level of safety, but is it safe enough? Stay tuned as we follow this story, as major theater chains begin to widely reopen across the U.S. this July.

Would you feel more comfortable if everyone in a theater was required to wear masks? Let us know in the comments.