Movie Theaters Reopening


Movie theaters are like a safe haven to many students here at San Marcos. But as COVID-19 hit and the theaters shut down, going to that “second home” was no longer available. But as cases decrease and the county begins to open up, what can we expect from the theaters?

The Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, CA. Image courtesy of Creative Commons

What has been going on at the theaters recently? Well, Metropolitan Camino Real Cinemas, with the sudden lockdown, have kept their concession stand open. They are still serving popcorn and candy to the public, even without a movie theater ticket. Plus, they have also recently started opening up the actual theaters while enforcing a 25% capacity rule. They have also installed a new reserved seating system, which automatically distances the viewers. Every other row is closed, and a misting system is installed in the theaters, alongside strict cleaning protocols. Among the new policies is a “Private Screening” option, for $125 and up. This option means that you and up to 20 people can rent out a theater for a private viewing.

David Corwin, president of the Metropolitan chain, explained to the Santa Barbara Independent that, “we’ve been running a family business for 97 years, and obviously we’ve never experienced something like this. One of the amazing things about movie theaters is that whatever else is going on in the world — the economy, war — theaters are open, 365 days a year. To have this situation is extraordinary.”

Santa Barbara County’s official approval of theater reopening on Tuesday, September 28, in the area’s where COVID-19 status dropped from purple to red, seven-venue local theaters reopened on Friday, October 2. A total of 11 screens will come to life at Goleta’s Camino Real Cinemas and Santa Barbara’s Fiesta 5, with more possibly opening soon.

Empty movie theater at the AMC Worldgate 9 Theater in Herndon Courtesy of Creative Commons

“I personally do not think they are safe right now due to the virus.” states freshman Claire Gamble, “Because movie theaters are closed in rooms with little ventilation you would have to be extra careful! I think they should be able to open if they take the safest precautions!” 

Throughout this lockdown, though, we have also witnessed the rise in drive-in theaters. After closing down in 2019, the West Wing Drive-In Theater has opened up once again. Many students and their families find this a good option since you are still going out to see a movie while socially distanced in your car. If you miss the theaters, you should definitely try this out! 

Overall, from this, we can expect more and more theaters to open up all across Santa Barbara County. It is still different, but many theaters are open, and to see some movies check what capacity the limit is and where it is, when you arrive. Stay tuned for more information as we begin opening up and stay safe.