With the massive Hurricane Irma expected to reach South Florida this weekend, movie chains in the region began shutting down Thursday night.
Gov. Rick Scott has directed the closure of all public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices from Friday to Monday and warned Thursday at a news conference that residents of Florida should be prepared to evacuate.
Forecasters warned that the Category 5 storm could reach South Florida by Sunday. The massive hurricane has been churning in the Atlantic Ocean with 175 mph sustained winds and has killed at least 10 people in the Caribbean islands.
AMC Theatres in the Miami and West Palm Beach markets were open Thursday night but will be closed beginning Friday through at least Sunday. The Regal, Cinemark and iPic chains had already started closing locations in and around Miami and Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.
“It has become more likely that Irma will make landfall in southern Florida as a dangerous major hurricane, and bring life-threatening storm surge and wind impacts to much of the state,” the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
In Georgia, the governor issued a mandatory evacuation order effective Saturday for several coastal counties including the city of Savannah.
Similar to Hurricane Harvey’s impact two weeks ago in Texas, Hurricane Irma will have a major impact on Florida moviegoing.
“In the areas impacted by the storm, the last thing on the minds of the residents is whether or not they can go out to the movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “The imperatives of protecting families and property obviously takes precedent over all other concerns and this will certainly have an impact on the regional returns in the affected regions.”