Major movie theater chains sued the governor of New Jersey on Tuesday over his plans to keep theaters closed while allowing other indoor activities to reopen, claiming the state unfairly singled out the industry.
The lawsuit was filed by The National Association of Theatre Owners, whose members include AMC, Cinemark and Regal.
The complaint alleges that New Jersey is making an “arbitrary and irrational” distinction between similar indoor businesses by allowing churches to reopen with limited capacity, for example, and not movie theaters.
The organization claims the state is violating the industry’s First Amendment rights along with its rights to equal protection and due process.
Most states have already given movie theaters the green light to reopen this month with limited capacity or mask mandates depending on state guidelines, though in New York movie theaters are still shut down
Getting customers into movie theaters is critical for the industry, which has been struggling amid the forced closures. Theater chains had been banking on attracting crowds to new releases this month, but the rise in new coronavirus cases threatens to prolong their pain. The release dates for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984 and the live-action Mulan remake have all been pushed back multiple times until after July.
New Jersey saw an early surge in cases back in April, but is now fairing better than new hotspots such as Florida and Arizona. Nonetheless, New Jersey paused plans to allow indoor dining last week fearing another spike. Other states, too, have rolled back reopening plans, including California, which not only shut down movie theaters again last week, but also closed indoor dining, zoos and museums.
Source – Forbes