Regal Cinemas is the latest theater chain to set a reopening date as this corner of the industry weathers hard financial hits amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Regal’s owner, Cineworld, is behind the reopening date decision and plans to reopen theaters in the UK, too. Potential return moviegoers will also be pleased to know that, unlike the Cinemark chain, there will be plenty of new health and safety guidelines in place to protect patrons from potential coronavirus exposure.
Per The Wrap, Cineworld will reopen Regal Cinemas‘ 546 U.S. locations on Friday, July 10. This wave of reopenings will happen alongside UK reopenings, and after Cineworld theaters in Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland open in late June. New guidelines on how to protect theatergoers from coronavirus exposure or spread have been shared on Regal’s official site. Highlights in the new set of guidelines include: Contactless payment will be utilized in addition to purchasing tickets on the Regal mobile app; employees will sanitize all auditorium after each movie using new electrostatic ‘fogger’ equipment, also known as “ULV Foggers”; all Regal employees will undergo daily health screenings; auditorium capacities will be reduced to just 50% with a minimum of 2 seats between groups; and, finally, employees and patrons will be required to wear masks in locations where this rule is in effect by local governance.
In a statement on theater reopenings during these otherwise grim times, Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger commented,
“We are thrilled to be back and encouraged by recent surveys that show that many people have missed going to the movie theatre. With a strong slate confirmed for the coming weeks, including among others Tenet, Mulan, A Quiet Place Part II, Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, [No Time to Die], Soul, Top Gun: Maverick, and many more, the entire Cineworld team remains committed to being ‘the best place to watch a movie.”
I admire Cineworld’s optimism ahead of this reopening plan, but it feel difficult to get excited about this. Just how much fun will a communal experience like going to a blockbuster movie during the peak summer months be during this time? Even with all of these measures in place? Sure, the new health and safety guidelines in place are comforting; how well they will be followed at every location is another matter entirely. Is it worth the risk amidst this pandemic to go out to a theater to see something like Tenet or Wonder Woman 1984? Is it worth spending the precious dollars which could be needed elsewhere for this kind of experience? The jury is still out, but frankly I don’t think it’s looking good.