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State Of The Arts: As Movie Theaters Reopen, We Look At The Safety Protocols, Guidance And More

Moviegoers sit, waiting for their movie to start at the AMC Burbank theatre on reopening day in Burbank, California, March 15, 2021.
Moviegoers sit, waiting for their movie to start at the AMC Burbank theatre on reopening day in Burbank, California, March 15, 2021.
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

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For months, the studios behind a live-action Mulan and Christopher Nolan's drama Tenet have been hoping movie theaters could reopen in time to show their films. Now, California has answered their prayers, saying multiplexes can indeed start firing up their popcorn poppers.

The state announced last week that theaters can begin showing movies as soon as last Friday, but with dramatically lower capacities than before the pandemic. AMC Theatres announced that the company expected to have about 98% of its locations across the country reopened by last Friday. Cinemark Theatres said it’d have about 90% of locations opened by March 15, and the company plans to gradually reopen more. Laemmle Theatres shared in a blog post that it’s working to reopen L.A. locations in the coming weeks. The recommendations from California's Department of Public Health and Department of Industrial Relations come just weeks before Tenet (July 17) and Mulan (July 24) were set to premiere as the most prominent studio releases since the nation's theaters were shuttered in mid-March. The guidelines for exhibitors stipulate that cinemas must "limit attendance to 25% of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower." The state also recommended that multiplex visitors and staff wear face coverings and practice "physical distancing to the maximum extent possible." They want seats to be taped off and have washable or disposable covers. They also want arrival times to be staggered so moviegoers don't enter the auditorium at the same time. The state's advice also applies to businesses such as bowling alleys and miniature golf courses. Today on AirTalk, we discuss plans for getting movie watchers back in front of the big screen, what the safety protocols and guidance will look like and the challenges for operators going forward. We also want to hear from you! Did you hit the movie theatre over the weekend? What was it like? Do you have plans to go soon, or are you holding off for now? Tell us by calling 866-893-5722 or commenting below. 

With files from LAist. Read John Horn’s full story here.   


John Horn, arts and entertainment host for KPCC; he tweets @JGHorn

Greg Laemmle, president of Laemmle Theatres; he tweets @greglaemmle