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AMC Theatres, Regal, Cinemark delay opening (again) as summer movie season remains in limbo

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Jul 23, 2020, 11:06 AM EDT

The summer blockbuster season just took another hit. AMC Theatres confirmed Thursday morning that the company would delay the opening of its movie theaters until mid to late August. The news isn't terribly shocking giving the announcement earlier this week that Warner Bros. was once again delaying the opening of its tentpole movie Tenet due to the surging number of coronavirus cases across the country.

"This new timing reflects currently expected release dates for much anticipated blockbusters like Warner Bros.' Tenet and Disney's Mulan, as well as release dates for several other new movies coming to AMC's big screens," the movie chain said in a statement. Which makes sense — it's hard enough to open theaters during a pandemic, much less without any new blockbusters on the screen. According to Slashfilm, two other major distributors, Regal and Cinemark, have delayed their openings as well.

Tenet, Christopher Nolan's latest epic, was originally scheduled to open on July 17, then pushed back to July 31 due to the pandemic, and then relocated again to August 12. Now Warner Bros. says it only hopes to release the film sometime in 2020. Mulan, Disney's live-action update of its animated classic, has also seen its opening jump around and is currently scheduled for August 21. As coronavirus cases surge in different sections of the U.S., is widely expected that date may not hold up either.

AMC is the largest theater chain in the world, and in the United States, where it has more than 600 locations. Theaters closed in March as the coronavirus crisis began to explode. About one-third of the company's theaters in Europe and the Middle East have since reopened as local cases have slowed significantly. But with positive cases and deaths continuing to rise in the U.S., there is little chance to ensure safety at mass indoor gatherings.

And with no new films to show, there is little financial incentive to open up even in areas where it might be safe. Even this new "mid to late August" date seems like an optimistic target.