AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc said on Tuesday it plans to reopen eight theaters in California, one of its key markets, providing some much needed hope to an industry that has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

AMC said that it would reopen theaters in Northern California, including San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

The world's largest theater chain expects to have about 540 of its 600-theatre circuit open by the end of this month.

While big theater chains such as AMC Entertainment and Cineworld Group have reopened many locations, audiences have been thin due to virus fears and delays in major releases by studios.

Small and mid-sized theater companies have said they may not survive the impact of the pandemic.

Shares of AMC, which have fallen 62% this year, were up 4.3% in premarket trading.