• Michael Wolfe

Returning to Movie Theaters in a post COVID world

If you’ve been anywhere on social media lately, you’ve probably been bombarded with ads for Christopher Nolan's most recent epic, TENET. As a Nolan fan, Ive been patiently waiting for this film to hit the silver screen, but depending on how deep your love is for getting out of the house and down to the cinema, you might not have even known that your local theaters were open.

During this unprecedented pandemic, one could think COVID is the fatal blow for theater chains and owner operators alike, but I think this curse has a subtle tinge of blessing to it. Not going to lie, I did have to convince a few of my friends to trust the hard work that these theater companies have put in with the CDC and epidemiologists such as Dr. David F. Goldsmith working with Regal entertainment group to increase their employee health training, and implement a wide array of new health and safety measures, to ensure the safest movie going experience possible. And after my Braveheart esque safety speech, paired with a few socially distanced beers, we were masked up and ready to jump back into the movies like it was summer 2019!

First thing that you will notice about new movie going protocol is contact-less ticket purchase and the absence of old school box office tellers. Utilizing the ease of custom apps, most theater chains have a dedicated mobile platform where you can check movie times, order your favorite concessions and purchase your tickets all from the palm of your hand. Which leads us to our next big change, reduced capacity seating.

From what I saw at my theater, capacity was cut by 50% or more by allowing two rows of empty seats in front of the rows allowed for seating, and there was at least 12 feet of space in between parties on the same row. Our crew felt more than safe with this distance which was comforting, due to us being a group of rather lanky gentlemen.

After settling in we judged that we had about 3 minutes to hit the concessions, which in a pre COVID world would not be nearly enough time to make it through the lines and hit the butter station. Lucky for us, they’ve consolidated the process and you can order directly off your app while scoring some extra concession points. But before you leave the counter remember, gone are the days of the messy self serve pagodas, you now have a personalized butter tender who can top your pop corn with immaculate efficiency.

Locked and loaded with our popped corn and sour patch kids, we headed back to our seats to enjoy what I would call, the ultimate mind meld of a movie. It only took about 4 seconds for us to shed any hesitations we had before entering the theater, and we were glued to our seats for the next 2 and a half hours.

Once credits rolled, in walked a seasoned brigade of theater employees whose cleaning supplies were harnessed with such zeal, ready to tackle any and all microbes left from us mouth breathers. Following the safety guidelines acknowledged by the CDC they ascended upon the seats and arm rests and all common areas with impressive vigor, dedicated to the all movie patrons safety. After a quick “thank you for your service” and a air hi 5 to the cleaning team, my friends and I were off to discuss the intense mystery of Tenet, and pure enthusiasm we had for our local theater being back, over our beloved after movie treat, an In n Out Double Double Animal Style.

Overall, its clear to me that theaters have no mercy in spearheading the battle to keep cinema alive, and are doing so by utilizing technology and collaboration with top health organizations to keep movie goers as safe as possible. If you have any doubts just remember, your health and well being comes first, because with out the fans, there are no movies.

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