Los Angeles theaters will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity next week, according to the LA Department of Public Health (via Variety). The restrictions are being lifted, almost exactly a year after they were put in place, because Los Angeles County believes it will reach the number of vaccinations required by California to move into the next phase of reopening. The movie capitol’s theater re-opening comes a few weeks after New York’s, meaning that two of the biggest movie markets will once again be uncapping their projectors.
As Variety notes, this doesn’t mean that the theaters will be able to open as soon as the ban lifts — they’ve been closed for so long that they’ll have to re-hire and train staff, which could take a week or two. The theaters will also have to ensure that they can meet the safety and cleaning requirements required by California, and will have to set up a reservation system if they don’t already have one — any theater reopening will be required to have moviegoers book their seats in advance. Attendees will also be required to wear masks, and groups will have to be at least six feet apart.
Theaters will also have to figure out which movies to show (a somewhat important part of the moviegoing experience), as most major releases have been pushed back to the second half of the year.
The future was looking grim for movie theaters back in October, with many theater chains shutting down all their locations in the US and UK, some permanently. The picture has been looking brighter since then, with the arrival of the vaccines, and AMC said yesterday that it believes it’ll be able to weather the storm until most Americans are able to see movies again. Whether the public will rush back to movie theaters remains to be seen, as some of the year’s most anticipated films will be released side-by-side on streaming.