AUSTIN, Texas - Under the governor's reopen Texas guidelines, movie theaters were allowed to open at limited capacity In May, but many theater companies decided to wait so they could rethink operations.
After five months of dark theaters and locked doors, Friday it was time to dust off the projectors, get the popcorn popping and roll film.
“I’m excited about it. Movies are a big part of my social life, that and eating out, and there for a while we couldn’t do anything,” said Carla Crisford who visited Regal Cinemas to catch a flick with friends Friday.
“I’ve been waiting for a specific movie to come out and it’s been pushing out and pushing out and it’s finally out, so I figure watch a movie and wait fourteen days I guess,” said Joseph Hogan-Sanchez who was also at Regal Westgate Friday afternoon.
The experience inside is mostly the same.
“Movies and movie theaters have always offered a sense of respite, get away from the world step into another world and be in surround sound,” Hogan-Sanchez said.
However, the rules for movie theater customers are a little different now. Masks are required inside the building at all times except when eating or drinking. Two empty seats will be left between each group. Theaters must be disinfected between screenings and anyone who is showing Covid-19 symptoms will have their money refunded and be asked to stay home.
“A lot of things have been put into place. I’ve done my research and, since it’s just opening, I know that people are probably still hesitant, so if you look at the parking lot it’s pretty empty,” said Hogan-Sanchez.
Alamo Drafthouse staff are also taking guests’ temperatures when they first step inside. Tickets there must be purchased online in advance and no more in-theater orders will be taken.
“They made us order everything online beforehand, instead of ordering in the theater,” said James Sellers who visit Alamo Drafthouse with friends Friday.
Those ready to return to the big screen seem to be cautiously comfortable with new safety guidelines.
“I trust them enough that I would say so,” Sellers said.
However, it's the bigger picture that has most customers even more excited.
“In one word, hope,” said Hogan-Sanchez.
“It does feel like there’s a little hope for the future,” Crisford said.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been a limited number of new releases making it to theaters this year. So, many theaters, like Regal and Alamo, are also screening older films.