coronavirus

‘A New Experience': Changes Come as Mass. Movie Theaters Reopen During Pandemic

Movie theaters in Massachusetts were allowed to reopen when Phase 3 began, but many delayed that process due to new restrictions on crowds and concessions

NBC Universal, Inc.

Major movie theater chains will soon reopen in Massachusetts after months of closures.

AMC Theaters plans to open 10 locations in the state on Thursday, while Showcase Cinemas is preparing to bring audiences back on August 28.

"We are super excited to welcome people back to the movies," said Mark Malinowski, vice president of global marketing for Showcase.

Over the last few weeks, the chain's Dedham location has been enhancing safety protocols and implementing new policies for customers. Tickets bought in person or online will come with a seat reservation that is intentionally set away from other parties outside of your group.

While temperature checks are not required, a thermal screening used by employees will be available for any customer who wishes to use it.

"When you come to the theater, everything is as contactless as possible," said Malinowski.

Theaters were allowed to resume business in July, as part of Phase 3 in the state's COVID-19 reopening plan. However, new restrictions on crowds and concessions caused many to delay their returns.

Under the state's guidelines, only 25 people can attend a showing at one time, and theaters are prohibited from selling food or drinks.

"We're running single digits, low teens," said David Bramante of the ticket sales at West Newton Cinema.

As a smaller theater with fewer screens, staying open for such limited seating has been difficult. Bramante now offers small groups the chance to rent out an auditorium for a private screening for just $100.

"We are adapting to what's going on," Bramante explained. "And I think that's what independents are known for, that's how we survive."

The industry is hoping to see a surge in audience interest with the release of Christopher Nolan's blockbuster, "Tenet." Showcase will begin screening it Sept. 3rd.

"It's going to be a new experience when people come out to the movies, but they're going to be reminded of what they have been missing," said Malinowski.

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