The magic of film has never failed to bring people together — but due to COVID-19 guidelines, gathering at the theater hasn’t been the ideal way to hang out. After a few months of being closed, some Broward County theaters are back and ready for business, but are people going to show up?
Five months after AMC theaters closed down on March 17 due to the pandemic, about 100 U.S. locations resumed operation this past August 20. In celebration of 100 years of operations, they called an opening promotion “Movies in 2020 at 1920 prices.”
In order to bring back customers. AMC began by charging only 15 cents. Now it is offering a 30% discount before 5 p.m. The discounted prices are: adults – $7.99, children ages 2 to 12 – $5.89 and seniors age 60 and up – $6.99. Then after 5 p.m., ticket prices are back to normal: adults pay $11.49, tickets for children ages 2 to 12 go for $8.49 and seniors ages 60 and older – $9.99.
Like all other businesses, they submitted a reopening plan to guarantee safety that included hand sanitizing stations, cashless transactions and wearing a mask. They added electrostatic disinfectant sprayers, HEPA filter vacuums, and MERV 13 air filters.
But at least in some locations, it doesn’t seem to be working out very well. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “studio research has indicated that the majority of Americans are not ready to immediately return to theaters, even with theater companies promoting a wide array of safety procedures.”
On a recent Saturday afternoon at the Sunrise 8, a freestanding theater on Pine Island Road, only about 40 people in a span of three hours. There were a mix of new films such as “Tenet,” “The New Mutants,” “Unhinged” and an older film, “42”.
“It was the first time I went to the movies and it was very secluded,” said Robert Henriquez, who visited with his family. “We didn’t have much interaction with anyone else. We had the whole row to ourselves.”
“During my visit, there were only three other people in the theater with me, so the social distancing seems to be working out well, ” said Olga Zamora who saw a screening of “Tenet.”
“There were only ten people in the theater, and my seat number ended up being the same as another person,” said Arthur Rose, who also watched “Tenet.”
The manager at Sunrise 8, who declined to give his name, referred comment to a corporate spokesman. Two emails to Ryan Noonan were not returned.
Some people may not feel the need to go out to watch movies when a lot of content is available on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney plus. Films like “Trolls World Tour,” “Mulan” and even “Hamilton” were all big motion pictures released online that received a lot of viewer interest.
It all comes down to whether you are comfortable with attending a cinema screening.
”There is nothing like the big screen, the surround sound, and I am very happy that safety measures are being installed so that we can enjoy the movies again,” Zamora said.
For more information about AMC Theaters please visit their website: amctheaters.com