Major movie theater chains, including AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, began closures in the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence started battering the North Carolina coast with hurricane-force winds on Thursday, leaving thousands without power.
It’s expected to turn toward South Carolina and make landfall on Friday afternoon.
The storm was moving northwest at 5 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s advisory at 5 p.m. ET, and was about 100 miles east of Wilmington, N.C. Florence’s top sustained wind speeds dropped from 140 mph to 100 mph early Thursday, reducing it from a Category 4 to a Category 2 hurricane, but forecasters warned that the widening storm will bring surging ocean water and torrential rain.
AMC’s website for multiplexes in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C., said, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but this theater is temporarily closed due to Hurricane Florence. We hope to reopen again soon, so please check back.”
An AMC spokesman said Thursday that at least seven AMC multiplexes have been closed.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, told Variety, “Of utmost concern to all exhibitors is the safety of their patrons and with the expected heavy rains, storm surge, and flooding in the southeast due to Hurricane Florence, there will be many theaters that will be forced to shutter until the storm subsides and the situation can be properly assessed.”
“Certainly, Hurricane Florence will have a major impact this weekend and as history shows, Harvey handed the industry its lowest-grossing overall frame since Jan. 1, 2017, to the present with a mere $69.6 million generated by all films over the weekend of Aug. 25, just over a year ago, and the top film earning $10.3 million,” he added.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned Thursday that residents should continue to take the storm seriously, adding, “Please hear my message. We cannot underestimate this storm. Don’t relax; don’t get complacent. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.”
Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Assn. of Theater Owners, said, “The safety of our guests and employees is always our first concern and assuring that safety means some disruption is inevitable. How damaging this storm will be is guesswork, but companies in the storm’s path have taken steps to minimize damage and disruption to their operations. Industry-wide, the effects of any one storm is minimal and our hope is that the local effects will be of short duration.”
Additionally, HGTV postponed shoots in North Carolina for the shows “House Hunters” and “Island Life.” The cabler’s “Love It or List It” is currently on hiatus. Several cast members of Bravo’s reality show “Southern Charm” announced on Wednesday that they had evacuated the area.