Here at Gildshire Movies, we have wagged our heads in sadness for a day and a day, and many days. Live stage plays are dark, and amusement parks sit idly in the early summer sun. Worst of all, the local movie theaters are silent! Where are the under-the-radar indie sleepers? When will the next Marvel Cinematic Universe release assault my senses? Who will be the voice of the next James Hound, much less don the natty clothing of the next James Bond? How many games of Chutes and Ladders must we play until the gates of merriment swing open and laughter rings in the rafters? Actually, many of the theaters are nearing their re-opening dates. Here are the plans as we know them right now.
The largest cinema chain in the U.S. will re-open most theaters on July 15. The company plans to make available 450 (or 75%) of its domestic locations at that time. The remaining 25% of AMC screens should light up nine days later for the July 24 debut of “Mulan.” After four months closed, AMC faces the challenge of getting the public comfortable enough to venture into a dark space with other people. The chain hopes its sanitation protocol will reassure movie lovers that it is safe to go to the movies, at least in time for the holiday blockbuster season.
Beginning in July, auditorium capacity is at a strict 30% of normal. That way, patrons can sit a safe distance from each other, as directed by the online or automated ticketing system. The company already spent millions of dollars on sanitation equipment, including electrostatic sprayers for each seat.
Cinemark announced that it will open its Dallas, Texas theaters first. That kicks off the beginning of a four-phase process that will result in all 555 Cinemark locations open by July 17. The company strongly encourages everyone visiting the theaters to wear masks, while gloves and masks are mandatory for Cinemark employees. Theater seats will be cleaned between shows. Hand sanitizers and individual seat wipes will be available to moviegoers. Ticket sales will be limited, and showtimes will be staggered. At first, the movies shown will be revivals of older hits. These include the original Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Three bucks get a child in the door, but the adult he brings along gets in must pony up two dollars more. New shows (and regular prices) debut July 10, with the release of Unhinged.
The last major movie chain to come back will be Regal, as Friday, July 10, is their big unveiling for most of their movie theaters. The remainder will open two weeks later. Regal will take all the necessary measures to keep customers and employees safe. Among other sanitation measures, auditorium seats will be limited, and increased cleaning and sanitation measures are a part of the new normal.
“We know how people miss cinemas, so we are thrilled to be back,” said Mooky Greidinger, Regal CEO. “With the great movies ahead, including Tenet, Mulan, Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, No Time to Die, Top Gun: Maverick, and many more, Regal is committed to being the best place to watch a movie.”
At first, Regal will screen classics at the same discounted prices as at Cinemark. Guests who bought $50.00 worth of tickets and/or gift cards through June 25, received a $15 concessions eCard, in return. Welcome back plans include some new contactless payment options and sanitizing innovations. Between movies, Regal Employees will treat every seat with a deep fog that disinfects all materials. It is a non-toxic, ultra-fast-drying formula. Also, Regal will employ floor markers to assist with social distancing.
Do you have one, or more, of these movie theater chains in your town? If so, it may be ready to head out to a movie. If you are still hesitant, no judgment here. Just know that new and innovative protections are in place to keep you safe. Should movie theaters have been doing some of this all along? Well…we want to keep this positive start to finish, shall we? Enjoy the movies, if and when you venture out.