During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have not been hurting for entertainment. Whether are streaming movies on Netflix or playing video games, there have been virtually unlimited options to keep people occupied. However, one of the casualties of the pandemic has been a night out at the movies.
Select Arkansas movie theaters opened their doors to the public on May 18. Governor Asa Hutchinson previously addressed the reopening of indoor venues, including movie theaters, during his press conference on May 5, stating that these venues will still be restricted to 50 people or less and will have to abide by social distancing standards.
For many locally owned and operated movie theaters, creativity has been required in order to maintain business due to strict coronavirus regulations and a pause in Hollywood productions.
In Wynne, Jill and Doug McDaniel own and operate Wynne Twin Cinema with their family and friends. Since 2009, the couple has been maintaining steady business in their two-screen theater. However, after reopening the night of May 18, the traffic was slow.
“I’m hoping people will get to where they’re not as scared,” Jill said. “I’m hoping we will eventually get to the point where masks and regulations are our choice, because I know that is holding my customers back.”
Their cinema is abiding by all coronavirus regulations while still finding ways to accommodate the new process of business. Wynne Twin Cinema is running classic movies such as The Wizard of Oz and The Goonies staggered throughout the day. This enables their team to disinfect the entire theater between showings, even maintaining a seating chart of which seats were occupied, ensuring extra cleaning efforts are applied in areas people have come in direct contact with. In addition, the cinema is open for private reservations.
Riverdale 10 VIP Cinema in Little Rock also opened their doors on May 18, playing past hits such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.
As for the Cinemark franchise theaters across the state, they remain empty.
“Cinemark is currently working toward a mid-summer opening date, contingent upon health and safety regulations, as well as availability of studio content,” a Cinemark representative said in an email to Arkansas Money and Politics magazine.
Both Malco Theatres and AMC Theaters have not announced plans to reopen until the summer at the earliest.