The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain is holding off reopening its 21 Texas locations following an announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott that movie theaters can open this weekend.
Austin-based Alamo closed down its 41 locations in mid-March because of coronavirus. In a statement Monday, the company said safety concerns are driving its decision. It did not disclose when its sites will reopen.
“Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training,” the company said. “This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly. We will not be opening this weekend. But know this, when we do open, we will be providing the safest possible experience for both our staff and our guests, and we can’t wait to see you all again!”
Abbott gave the approval for movie theaters, restaurants, retail stores and museums to open starting on Friday. He added theaters and other establishments would be allowed to operate at only 25% capacity, which may make it uneconomical for many businesses to operate. Abbott acknowledged that companies could choose to remain closed.
“This is permission to open, not a requirement,” Abbott said.
The major theater chains are unlikely to reopen without the support of large studio releases, which in turn are unlikely to be distributed until theaters across the country are able to screen them.
Alamo Drafthouse was founded in Austin in 1997. The Texas-based chain specializes food and drink service with unique programming, combining independent and blockbuster films, as well as classics and “hard-to-find” cult favorites.