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Many Lower Mainland movie theatres reopen after months-long COVID-19 closures

Last Updated Jul 3, 2020 at 1:09 pm PDT

A Landmark Cinema employee cleans a theatre. (Courtesy Landmark Cinemas)
Summary

Several movie theatres across the Lower Mainland are reopening on Friday

New measures have been brought in at theatres to help stop the spread of COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning

Landmark Cinemas is reopening two Lower Mainland locations; Cineplex is reopening eight across B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s opening day for some big movie theatres across the Lower Mainland, after months-long closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cineplex is reopening eight of its theatres across B.C., including five on the Lower Mainland — the one at Burnaby’s Metrotown, the downtown Vancouver location at Scotiabank Theatre, the one in Langley, the Strawberry Hill location in Surrey, and SilverCity Riverport in Richmond.

Reopening amid the pandemic means a number of changes will be in place, including new safety measures.

“Enhanced cleaning throughout all of our theatres with a particular focus on high-contact surfaces. Our seats will be cleaned between each and every show time,” Sarah Van Lange with Cineplex explains. “We’re reducing capacity in our auditoriums by 60 to 80 per cent.”

In addition, Cineplex will also be limiting its food options, customers will be forced to reserve seating, and guests will have access to hand sanitizer.

Meantime, Landmark Cinemas is reopening its two locations in Metro Vancouver.

Again, new protocols are being brought in to try to help keep customers safe from COVID-19. Landmark CEO Bill Walker says it should be easy to physically distance.

“I think the theatres are pretty well positioned to do that, particularly at Guildford and New West — we have recliner seating,” Walker tells NEWS 1130. “You’re going to see more personal space than you’ve ever had in these auditoriums.”

In addition to enhanced cleaning measures, Walker says Landmark is also spreading out its showtimes.

“So that there’s no big crush time where everyone’s arriving, and with limited capacities, you’re going to find yourself able to distance quite effectively in the lobbies as well,” he explains.

Both Cineplex and Landmark say masks are encouraged, but will not be mandatory, and that staff will be wearing them.

“We’re letting customers make that choice accordingly,” Walker adds.

Eager but anxious

While many people are ready to get back to the movie theatres, Thor Diakow with Breakfast Television on Citytv says this summer will be a little more low-key than others.

“When it comes to summer blockbusters that were slated for release in June, July, August, we’re seeing those increasingly getting pushed not only to the fall — I think that’s wishful thinking — but even to 2021,” he says.

He adds the big question is whether or not theatre chains will be able to make enough revenue. Many PR departments are already working hard to convince people it’s safe.

“That is a huge uphill battle, and I think the only way to do that is at such a reduced capacity. But, again, that leaves the question: Will theatre chains be able to make revenue with such a reduced capacity and way less people in each screening? Plus, you won’t have as many screenings.”

Thor, himself, is among those who are at least a little leery about sitting down with others in an enclosed space, saying while he’s a little anxious, he’s also really looking forward to watching the newest flicks on the big screen, in some form.