AMC, Regal Rejected on Bid to Reopen N.J. Cinemas for Summer

The biggest movie-theater operators in the U.S. won’t be allowed to reopen in New Jersey for now, putting a dent in their efforts to save the summer movie season.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Cinemark Holdings Inc., Regal Cinemas Inc. and other movie-theater operators sued the state and Governor Philip Murphy earlier this month over his decision to keep cinemas dark because of the risk of coronavirus transmission, even though churches, libraries and shopping malls were allowed to reopen.

The companies, led by the National Association of Theater Owners, ratcheted up the pressure Tuesday by asking a judge for a temporary restraining order that would let them screen movies. But U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Trenton rejected the request later in the day.

The theater owners said they are only seeking to “be treated the same as the other places of public assembly” that the state has allowed to reopen. In their July 7 complaint, they argued that going to the movies -- where talking isn’t permitted and movement is limited -- is less risky in terms of virus spread than attending organized religious services where participants often interact with each other.

Companies in the entertainment and leisure industries have been among those hardest hit by state and federal guidelines to stay at home. AMC on Monday said it had approval for a deal to raise cash to help it stay in business while it tries to ride out the pandemic.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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