LOS ANGELES — AMC Theatres introduced a new COVID-safe, jumbo refillable popcorn face mask last week, doubling down on their effort to welcome back weary, timid moviegoers.
“We’re combining the two most important things in this post-COVID theater experience: the safety of our patrons, and overcharging for concessions,” said Brian Villafana, director of return-to-screen operations for AMC. “Our research shows that audiences stuck watching mediocre films on their too-small home screens desperately miss shoveling buttery, salty movie theater popcorn into their mouth holes. And since we’re still in the midst of a generational pandemic, we found a way to work in the state-ordered mask mandates as well.”
The basic masks cost $7.99 for a small paper version, $10.99 for a large with free refills, and $29.99 for an N95-grade collectible “Unhinged” mask featuring Russell Crowe’s face.
Ahead of a discounted showing of early 2020 box office hit “Sonic the Hedgehog,” Isaac Loredo was spotted already grabbing a refill.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Loredo said, his voice muffled by 64 ounces of popcorn. “Yeah, the butter flavoring gets messy in my beard, I’ve inhaled a lot of half-popped kernels, and being required to wear it in the restroom is a little off-putting… but it’s worth it to finally have a night at the movies again. A few people have needed the heimlich maneuver after choking on popcorn, but AMC Stubbs members get double points with each mask purchase, so I think it evens out.”
Hollywood is enthusiastically backing AMC’s popcorn masks, with blockbuster director Christopher Nolan endorsing the product.
“I’m delighted to be single-handedly rescuing the theatrical experience with my new film ‘Tenet,’” Nolan said in a statement released by Warner Bros. “In fact, as I’ve been saying all along, the ideal way to see ‘Tenet’ is on the biggest screen possible with a bag of food strapped to your face like a prized racehorse.”
In related news, competing theater chain Regal Cinemas will offer a line of “COVID-safe” individually-wrapped Skittles and Peanut M&Ms.