Some Washington movie theatres start to reopen amid COVID-19 restrictions

Emmanuel Son, Staff Writer

Throughout the state, many movie theaters have started reopening or have released their plans to reopen after Governor Jay Inslee had given the approval for limited capacity openings. AMC and Cinemark in Washington state opened on Oct. 16th. 

With many restrictions on movie theaters in Washington, livelihoods and jobs have been affected across the state. Most theaters in Washington have been closed for the past six months. Regal Cinema at the Martin Way Village is among those that are remaining closed for the time being, along with Olympia’s historic Capital Theatre. The closest place to get your movie fix is at the nearby Yelm Cinemas, located just thirty minutes southeast of campus.

“Some of the employees at the time, they’ll be back, some have moved onto other jobs, but now everyone is learning a new routine to keep everybody safe when we reopen” said Megan Carter operations manager of Battle Ground Cinema, which is in phase 3 allowing a 50 percent  capacity. 

Smaller owned theaters have been hit hard financially with the theater closings. David McRae, who owns the Ark Lodge Cinemas in Seattle has started a fundraiser to be able to pay for back rent and new technology such as hands free equipment and upgraded seating, as well as an improved ventilation system as the CDC has high requirements for them. 

Even with theaters reopening, McRae states that the biggest challenge is not having many new films to release as most movie-companies are putting a delay in releasing their films. This poses a much more difficult situation for many of the smaller family owned movie theaters in the area. 

Carter stated, “When Battle Ground Cinema opens, it won’t be with big Hollywood blockbusters but with some timely re-releases such as ‘Hocus Pocus’ for Halloween and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ for the Holidays.” Not only has it been a question of what to show after reopening but also how customers will feel. 

Even with reduced seating and other safety precautions in place, many people who would go to the theatre may not feel safe. This further contributes to the problems of theatres because even if they are open, there is still no guarantee that they would fill up with viewers. 

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