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Arizona movie theaters get OK to reopen on May 16; Harkins says it won't reopen until the summer

Posted at 7:20 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 00:02:37-04

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday that pools, gyms, fitness centers, spas, and massage therapists would be able to reopen for business on Wednesday, May 13, part of his phased-in approach to reopening the state's economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: What are the rules for community pools reopening in Arizona?
Related: What are rules for gyms reopening in Arizona?

He also announced that the state's stay-at-home order would expire on Friday, May 15, but that people need to continue to practice social and physical distancing and follow CDC-recommended guidelines.

But, what about movie theaters and bars, two industries that remain closed in Arizona?

While not discussed during Tuesday's press conference, the Governor's Office told ABC15 reporters after the conference that movie theaters would be allowed to reopen, if they chose to, as early as Saturday, May 16.

Arizona is home to independent theaters and national theater chains, including Harkins, AMC, and Regal Cinema. So far, none have announced their plans to reopen.

After this story was published, Harkins Theatre released a statement the next day saying its theaters would likely not reopen until the summer when some of the summer blockbuster movies are expected to be released.

"Although we are not planning to reopen our theatres now, we are anxious for the day that we can safely and responsibly welcome guests back into our theatres to watch movies on the big screen, where they are meant to be seen. As we make plans for our expected summer reopening, the health and well-being of our guests and team members remains our highest priority," the statement said.

"For our business to reopen, another necessary criteria is a reliable and continuous slate of great new theatrical films. Currently, blockbuster films such as Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984, Disney’s Mulan and others are scheduled to release this summer. Harkins expects to open our theatres a couple of weeks in advance of these blockbusters, presenting unique programming of previously released or specialty films," the statement continued.

Michael Pollack, who runs Pollack Tempe Cinema, a small theater that shows second-run movies at discounted prices, said he also has no current plans to immediately open his theater.

"We are not going to consider reopening the Pollack Tempe Cinemas until we feel completely comfortable that we can do it safely," he said in a statement on Wednesday. "Our number one priority has never been about profit or loss. It has always been about delivering a unique fun family experience at a very affordable price. The safety of our employees and our valued customers is not something that we take lightly and when we feel comfortable with a realistic plan that can accomplish our goals we will consider reopening."

AMC did not respond to our request for comment. Roadhouse Cinema, Alamo Drafthouse, Studio Movie Grill, and Flix Brewhouse, who all have locations in Arizona, have not yet announced plans to reopen.

West Wind Drive-In in Glendale has remained open throughout the pandemic. In recent weeks, pop-up drive-ins have opened in Glendale, Mesa, Queen Creek, and Scottsdale.

Bars, meanwhile, have not been cleared to reopen.

The Governor's Office told ABC15 reporters that additional information and guidance would be announced later this week.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include statements from Harkins and Pollack Tempe Cinemas.