An Open Letter to Movie Theaters CEOs, At Face Value

An Open Letter to Movie Theaters CEOs, At Face Value

Dear Haphazard Nitwits Running America’s Movie Theaters,

  • Adam Aron, CEO, AMC Theaters
  • Moshe J. Greidinger, Chairman and CEO, Regal Theaters
  • Mark Zoradi, CEO of Cinemark Theaters

The hell is wrong with you?!

Seriously. I know that is a breach in decorum to address people as fancy as each of you, but did you fall and hit your head on a ticket booth? You run North America’s three largest movie theater chains — AMC, Regal, Cinemark — and have plans of public knowledge that you will be opening your doors just in time to help Christopher Nolan become a very wealthy man on July 24 with the release of the summer tentpole, Tenet.

Huzzah! Many of our cinephile brethren are thrilled about the news and look forward to spending a week’s salary on those fancy reclining pleather cushions and dining on a trough of diabetic-induced popcorn. But, there is one thing that strikes us as an odd predicament.

You see, we read the small print of your manifestos and understand what you all intend to do to protect your people from COVID-19. And we applaud each of you for that, but none of that penmanship is forcing customers to wear masks or gloves. Why?

Each movie theater chief executive has COVID-19 regulations and protective measures. They’re mirror images of each other. They are all taking several precautions to protect their patrons, as well as their staff. But what about demanding the people protect themselves?

It’s been proven that we are not a smart people, just an impatient one. Now that the United States has “reopened,” much like these movie theaters are doing in July, the cases of COVID-19 are spiking to the turmoil of many unsuspecting Americans.

Understanding that we, as a people, are taking masks and gloves for granted, why isn’t that being forced?

Monkey See, Monkey Don’t Do

America's largest movie theaters - AMC, Regal, and Cinemark
Source: Getty Images/Business Wire

Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theaters had an interesting quote the other day with CNN Business:

You can be sure that I’ll be wearing a mask [when the movie theater opens next month].

adam aron, ceo, amc theaters

Great. You will. The CEO of the world’s largest movie theater chain. You will wear a mask into your chain to protect your team from any spittle you happen to project because of sheer excitement. If it’s important enough for you to do, why isn’t that mandatory for the throng of patrons to do it as well?

CNN Business asked you the same thing under the guise of the same thought: Make the rules all you want. It’s the idiot public who has to execute the direction. And we all have seen by now, they won’t.

Well, as you say, we have put in a lot of procedures designed to make movie theaters safe. Some of those are within our control. Some of those are within our guests’ control, and there will be a tremendous amount of communication with our guests before they get to the theater, while they’re at the theater, after they leave the theater, reminding them of how they can keep themselves and their fellow moviegoers safe.

And we’ll do our best to see that our policies are followed. There’s a limit to how much we can do, of course. If someone is irresponsible –and we catch them– we can ask them to leave the theater. We’ve done that often in pre-pandemic times and we’ll do that often in post-pandemic times.

Take It To The Limit

Credit: Ben Gabbe / Getty Images

Get that: “There’s a limit to how much we can do.”

That’s the thing, Mr. Aron: You haven’t reached that limit yet. You stopped short of insisting ‘no mask, no ticket’ into your movie theaters. And everyone knows Regal Movies and Cinemark are just waiting on your example. But there you are, resting on your laurels with a “strong sense of encouragement” but not insistence.

We are requiring moviegoers to wear masks in those jurisdictions where it is required. We are requiring all of our associates, all our employees, to wear masks all across the country.

And we are strongly encouraging our guests to wear masks all across the country, but not requiring it. And we’re doing that for a couple of reasons.

More from AMC Theaters CeO Adam Aron

Your couple of reasons are based on geographic differences in law and political differences across the country. Can I share something with you? This is your business. You make the rules by which patrons must respect. If they don’t, those dolts can go back to streaming and get their fat asses out of your theater. It’s that simple. At least, it should be.

Then again, maybe that is it?

You won’t demand masks and gloves because you want to get all that money. That’s it, isn’t it? You don’t want to offend the oodles of guests so you’ll “strongly encourage” the wearing of masks. That phrase will help you sleep at night, but hey, at least, you’re back in the red, huh?

Don’t believe me? Listen to what the pied piper of cinema entertainment said here:

We did not what to be drawn into a political controversy…we thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.

AMC Theaters CEO, adam aron
speaking to Variety
Politics over pandemic. A packed house over public health. Cents over common sense.

Seriously, you CEOs should all be ashamed. You have a responsibility to serve. Yes, those dunderheads have a responsibility to protect themselves. They won’t, so they need to be forced because their pigheadedness becomes our problem. If they are sick and irresponsible, maybe we all get sick. Us! You know? The people choosing to spend money at your movie theaters?

Well, you have one chance to impress this notion of safety first upon your patrons. One! Don’t, and we won’t be coming back. Then, you really will be bankrupt.

If you are an owner and operator of a movie theater chain that is not named Aron, Greidinger, and Zoradi, force people wear the damn masks. They can’t be trusted to do it on their own. That much has been proven. Prove to us you care about more things than money. The health of your business — and your patrons — count on it.

One last thing: There’s an unfortunate turn of phrase used by people. I saw it once in Forbes:

I wouldn’t be caught dead inside a movie theater if not everyone was wearing a mask.

Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Do I really need to go on a rant over the stark irony and morbid sense of idioms here? If you don’t force people to wear a mask… just be sure we don’t catch anything. You’ve been warned.

Healthiest Regards,

The Public You’re Getting Close to Losing, Us.

Featured Image Credit: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

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I write for a living, among other things in the digital journalism and analytics universe. So I'm a little like a nerd unicorn. But no bronies. Move along.
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