Select movie theaters across North America are starting to reopen their doors. States like Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma are experimenting with opening businesses to the public again, but with social distancing in mind. AMC and Cinemark will remain closed until at least July, but littler theaters across the United States are going to try and see what happens without any new movies to screen. In an attempt to practice safe social distancing, theaters are adopting TSA-like entries, along with temperature checks.
EVO Entertainment in Texas plans to open two locations starting this Monday, May 4th. They will be implementing an "airport security-style check-in," says CEO Mitchell Roberts. Guests will be sent through a cordoned area from the front of the establishment. From there, they will be asked if anyone in their household has had flu-like symptoms in the past two weeks. Finally, guests will have to go through an infrared temperature screening. If anyone has a temperature higher than 100.4, they will not be allowed into the theater.
EVO CEO Mitchell Roberts says, "I feel like it's really important for our guests to come in and see what we're doing to protect them." He added, "The focus is on earning that customer confidence back." Since no major movies are coming out, Roberts says they will focus on movies like The Goonies and other classics. More recent movies like Sonic the Hedgehog and local favorites like American Sniper will also be available. "We're looking at positive, feel-good stuff," Roberts said. "Everyone has the same programming mantra - classic films, good, popular stuff."
Santikos Entertainment in San Antonio is also opening theaters at $5 for adults and $3 for children. Like EVO, they will be looking at classics and feel-good movies. CEO Tim Handren says, "We're operating more for psychological value than net income." He went on to note, "That's what theaters are for - an escape. We're going to provide that escape." Oklahoma is also starting to look at opening theaters, though not as fast as Texas and Georgia. As for how this will work out is anyone's guess at the moment.
Are people going to want to sit in a movie theater during this time? Keeping businesses closed and people indoors has seen some protest in certain states, like California and Michigan. So, there will more than likely be a decent amount of people who are willing to go into theaters. However, are they going to like the airport-style way of loading in and qualifying for a movie? That remains to be seen. Other countries, like China, have tried reopening at a time where many thought it was too early and saw themselves having to go right back to staying indoors after things got much worse. The new social distancing movie theater news was originally reported by Variety.