What to expect at the movies during a pandemic, some theaters not ready

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The ticket window is still empty at the Six Forks Cinema. While North Carolina theaters are allowed to open with restrictions on Friday, some are not ready.

“We’ve gone from a record-breaking year in 2019 to a really difficult economic year this year. That affects our operators, that affects our employees,” said John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners.

The owner at Six Forks Cinema has been surviving on selling concessions like popcorn and Icees. He wasn’t ready to talk on camera yet but says he’s holding off on opening for a week. He still needs time to sort out staffing, safety procedures, and what movies to screen.

He said he lost all but four of his employees. Many have found new employment or moved away as a result of remote learning at local colleges.

“It’s a bit of a fire drill to get ready for this in two days but they’re so excited about opening up again. Our employees and managers are so excited about coming back,” Fithian said.

It’s unclear if reopening crowds will match that excitement.

“There’s one movie is on Netflix, The Social Dilemma, I cannot wait [for it]. I hope they bring it back to the theaters I would like to go and see it,” Andriyana Andreeva told CBS 17.

“If I had little children, I probably wouldn’t take them still. I would want to protect them,” Chrissy Rand told CBS 17. She has a mother who is in the at-risk group for COVID-19.

CinemaSafe Protocol

The CinemaSafe Protocol was put together by the National Association of Theater Owners back in August.

It says you can expect seats spaced out more. Computer systems will seat groups together but keep them separate from other groups.

Movie times should be staggered to keep people from congregating in places like restrooms as much as possible.

You won’t be refilling and pouring your own condiments or sodas anymore either. That will be left for employees to do. Some places may even choose to use new containers for refills.

The days of hanging out with friends in the lobby are in the past for now.

“You want to keep your mask on, take your food and beverage, go into the auditorium sit down and then only take your mask off to eat,” said Fithian.

The agreement takes also into account standard health precautions like mask wearing social distancing and frequent hand washing.

It also asks theaters to consider their air filtration systems. The agreement recommends increasing ventilation and considering the use of portable high-efficiency air cleaners.

The document also recommended cashless or contactless payments whenever possible. Theaters are also encouraged to eliminate communal food and condiments that require shared serving utensils or equipment.

The National Association of Theater Owners reported they had more than 300 owners who have signed their protocol.

Read the entire document below:

Local theater openings

Cinemark theaters: October 9

Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh: October 2


Asheville, NC
AMC River Hills 10
Charlotte, NC
AMC Carolina Pavilion 22
AMC Concord Mills 24
AMC Hickory 15
AMC Northlake Mall 14
AMC Park Terrace 6
Greenville, NC
AMC Fire Tower 12 Raleigh, NC
AMC Fayetteville 14
AMC DINE-IN Holly Springs 9
AMC Market Fair 15
AMC Park Place 16
AMC DINE-IN Southpoint 17
Charlotte, NC
AMC CLASSIC Lincolnton 8
Greensboro, NC
AMC CLASSIC Greensboro 18
AMC Hanes 12
AMC High Point 8
Greenville, NC
AMC CLASSIC Havelock 6
AMC CLASSIC Jacksonville 16
Raleigh, NC
Wilmington, NC
AMC CLASSIC Wilmington 16

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