AMC now targeting July 30 reopening due to Tenet and Mulan delays, Regal staying July 10 course

This makes sense — and yet it sort of doesn’t.

The problem with theaters continuing to wait to reopen until they have new movies is waiting too long, not testing the moviegoer marketplace in current times with safety protocols in place. Wait too long, not enough screens are open, this spooks the studios who, in turn, delay their movies further, thus giving the theaters less new movies to show.

This perpetuates a cycle that will be difficult to break as long as theaters continue to stay closed. The sooner they open, they start testing the market with their enhanced safety protocols and then they’re ready and customers are programmed by the time Tenet, Mulan and other new titles hit. It makes sense.

As of this writing, assuming it’s safe and legal to do so of course, Regal Cinema is standing by their reopening date plans (see: Regal Cinemas Announces Classic Movie Screenings Starting July 10 (IF they reopen): Rocky, Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and more), but AMC announced they are pushing back their reopening plans by a couple more weeks.

On Monday, the largest theater chain in the U.S., said it would now begin its phased reopening of theaters on July 30. Previously, the company had planned on starting to reopen theaters in mid-July in time for the releases of “Tenet” and “Mulan.” 

AMC shifts reopening to July 30 as Hollywood pushes back blockbusters

As stated here before, we don’t personally care when AMC reopens in our area, because we are Regal Unlimited Pass customers and watch the vast majority of movies in Regal Cinemas in our area.

These are the theaters we’ll be watching movies at again soon, hopefully. And, yes, we’ll wear masks, as they are now required everywhere in Washington State in public. Don’t know about you, but I’m more used to wearing a mask. No, I don’t like wearing them, but I’ve been wearing one literally for months now, so it’s become conditioned behavior. When health officials say it is safe to no longer wear one, I happily go without, but I’m not going to let wearing a mask spoil going out in public and to the movies (see: Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?)

Regal Cinemas is a mere 11 days from this post, and yet no movie times are showing yet. I’m curious when presales will become available? I mean, you’d think the next few days if they’re opening in 11 days, certainly not like the night before, right? Yes/no?

I keep reading about part of the safety is not having cash transactions and buying tickets online … .but yet we’re nearing a week before theaters reopen and still can’t buy tickets yet. I realize they are probably waiting until the last possible moment to reopen, but it seems counter to planning and safety to not give some amount of time in advance of the reopening for ticket presales.

Then again, maybe the vast majority of theater ticket purchases are on site? Admittedly, that’s how we prefer to do it, even though we can use the app in our phones and pay like 50 cents or something for the “convenience” of a presale. I wonder if those convenience fees will be waived in light of this being the primary way to buy movie tickets?

So many questions and so few answers. We’ll stay on top of it. Feel free to use the comments to share what your movie theater reopening experience is like.

Regal Cinemas Announces Classic Movie Screenings Starting July 10 (IF they reopen): Rocky, Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and more

Despite the delay of Tenet and Mulan to August (see: Tenet Delayed Again to August 12 – Summer Movie Theater Viewing Slipping Away), Regal Cinemas continues to stay the course of their announcement of reopening July 10.

According to a series of tweets from Regal’s official Twitter account (@RegalMovies), they have announced some of the classic movies that will be screening.

This is a good selection of movies to watch or rewatch on the big screen. Any in particular you’re interested in watching/rewatching in the theater, let us know in the comments. And, you might want to read the tweet replies, as some folks are saying it’s “too soon” and to “wait.”

This, in fact, might be the reality in some (many?) areas.

As of this writing, all our local Regal theaters continue to show no movie showtimes available for presale tickets (see topmost image). Being July 10 is only a couple weeks away from the posting of this article logic would suggest that at any time now the movie times will appear.

Unless they decide not to reopen, which is entirely possible, especially considering phase 4 in our area is being slowed due to spikes in COVID-19.

Credit: The Seattle Times June 27, 2020

We live in a county just south of the highest percentage of COVID-19 cases (King County – Seattle) highlighted in red on the image shown above. The graph to the left shows the increase in COVID-19 cases has risen to levels seen on 4/1 a couple weeks after non-essential businesses were closed. Deaths, if there is any positive in this data, have continued to decline.

I’m not sure if Regal or AMC will open in a couple weeks based on this data. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve maintained that the theaters should reopen as soon as possible when it is safe. I’m no scientist or health care professional, but the data above makes a strong case in our area that it isn’t safe yet.

I’m among the group that strongly wants to see movie theaters reopen, but not at the cost of public safety. If they do reopen on July 10, as planned, I’m going to be there, but this isn’t clear bearing the data shown above.

I’ve been waiting to post movies coming to theaters in July because changes to movie release dates continue to be delayed. This is yet more proof that nothing is predictable in these current times. Will likely do again like June (see: Originally Planned 9 Movies COMING TO THEATERS in June 2020 – Actual: 3 VOD, 0 Wide Theater Releases). I was hoping we might be getting back to normal, but that seems premature.

When Do You Think Movie Theaters Will Reopen?

We’ve covered in a prior post if you’re going to wait or visit right away and if you’re required to wear a mask (see: Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?), a question I haven’t asked is when do you think movie theaters will reopen?

Will movie theaters open in July? Yes/no? In some areas, at least, I think the answer is no, despite theater announcements to the contrary. Government regulations may prevent — and rightly so — this from happening.

Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?

How easy is it going to be eating popcorn and drinking soda while wearing a mask? Um, a distraction to the experience, definitely.

To mask or not is now being debated in the movie theater world.

AMC has reversed their decision to now requiring moviegoers to wear masks in their theaters. Before, they were going to allow their patrons to make that choice for themselves.

“This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” Aron said in a statement on Friday. “At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy.”

AMC Theatres reverses course, requiring guests to wear masks – CNN

I haven’t seen that Regal will be requiring masks, unless required by governmental order, which was a similar position AMC took initially. Since a very tiny percentage of movies we watch at AMC theaters, whatever policies they choose will have almost no impact on our movie theater watching experience.

One of many things that has changed for our lifestyle is wearing masks. When it’s required for use at a business, as is the case with most casinos, we wear them. When it’s optional, we don’t. At work? It’s mostly required for both of us, so we wear them. I’d be lying if I said wearing a mask is something either of us enjoy. We don’t.

Do we feel safer with everybody wearing masks? Honestly, no. Do you? This might be controversial, but I feel sicker wearing a mask than being able to breathe naturally without one. They also fog up my glasses making it harder for me to walk around safely. Don’t even get me started on sneezing or coughing inside one. The wearing mask experience sucks, sorry.

There are practical considerations when wearing a mask as part of the movie theater watching experience. We both love popcorn, so we’re nearly constantly eating throughout the film. This is going to cause adjusting and readjusting a mask every single time a bite is taken, not to mention drinking soda.

We can watch movies at home without wearing a mask.

This got me thinking about the question raised in the title. Will wearing a mask make me want to see less movies in theaters? I don’t think so. Despite not enjoying wearing a mask, it’s not so unenjoyable that it will cause me to say, “I won’t go see Tenet at any theater that makes me wear a mask.”

However, if we have a choice between theaters that require masks and those who don’t? We would probably choose the one that doesn’t require a mask.

Since we really miss the movie watching in theater experience, a mask being required isn’t going to prevent us from seeing a movie. Some may not go back to theaters if they are forced to wear masks. It seems a bit silly a reason to reduce movie watching in theaters, but I’m curious how this might impact other moviegoers interest?

Will you watch more or less movies in a theater that require wearing a mask?

Those Polled Say Temp Taken and More Hand Sanitizer Make Them More Likely To Revisit Movie Theater

Man poisoned in an anthology short story season 1 of Bloodride

Polls can say anything they want.

Depending on who’s taking them, how the poll is worded. Remember, the polls overwhelmingly declared Donald Trump had no chance winning against Hillary Clinton.

So, yeah, I’m a little jaded on polls. However, this EDO poll is a little more optimistic about moviegoers returning to theaters if they feel safe.

What’s key to note in the latest survey from EDO is that when respondents were polled initially, they were asked outright if they’d return to cinemas. Those responses drew a near split reaction between likely (40%) and unlikely (36%). However, with the implementation of their desired safety measures, the rate of respondents who said that they were likely to return increased significantly from 40% to 75%. Eighty percent of the EDO sample said the ability to RSVP seats also was a positive factor contributing to their decision to head back to the cinema.

Movie Theaters Reopening Survey: Majority Would Go If Safety Measures In Place – Deadline

Having hand sanitizer stations everywhere and plexiglass guards on the headrests doesn’t prevent someone with COVID-19 from sneezing outside a mask into the air and it being circled around inside the theater.

Not trying to rain on any safety standard parade, but this was covered in a scene in a movie already quite effectively (see: Will Social Distancing by Movie Theaters Truly Provide More Protection Against Viral Infection?)

I’m onboard with checking temps, enforcing masks, putting up plexiglass guards (as long as they don’t obstruct viewing), selling to 50% capacity so every other chair or more enforce distancing — all of this sounds good, but I’m practical understanding that the risk is still there and no matter how much safety is employed some percentage of moviegoers will not return to movie theaters.

Some may never return.

Although not a guarantee, because my work and life schedule might prevent this, but as soon as I know Regal Cinemas are open in our area showing movies, I’ll be there, whatever safety measures they’ve put in place. Wife and I both will be there.

We love and miss the movie theater experience. We love that more than are afraid we’ll contract COVID-19 from another moviegoer. Neither of us want to get sick, but we have been working the entire time this pandemic happened. We’re interacting with people through work, some in close proximity, so we’ve been running the risk of getting sick all along.

My thinking is if I can get sick at work, using precautions, I might as well not change my entertainment lifestyle too much. Movie theaters, restaurants, concerts, casinos, yes, going to visit them all. Can’t just work and stay at home. That’s not living life. I’m getting out there and doing something.

Sure, it puts me at greater risk doing many of these things I enjoy, but living life fearing death is pointless. We’re all going to die sooner or later. Heck, we’re dying right now. There is an internal clock called aging that never loses. Why spend another day confined to your home when you can get outside and breathe in fresh air, head to the mountains or ocean or lake? Watch birds flying, climb a tree, hike a trail. Plenty of activities outside that don’t involve other people, if that’s your thing.

Spokane, WA Hobby Lobby May Not Be Singing In The Rain like Northern Quest Casino

Singing In The Rain slot machine is at Northern Quest Casino in Spokane, WA, one of the first casinos in the United States to reopen

I’ve long argued that it’s unfair that tribal casinos as businesses are allowed to play by different rules.

Just to be clear up front, I harbor no ill will to the tribes and their people and am disgusted by American history in how they were treated, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I also enjoy visiting tribal casinos and giving them my business, so full disclosure is necessary.

That said, I wish non-tribal businesses in our state could legally offer gambling.

Whenever legislation has come up to allow any business to be able to have gambling, I’ve voted for it. Always, however, tribes sponsor anti-gambling opposition ads. Of course they don’t want to allow Joe’s Bar & Grill to be able to add slot machines. Or, frankly, any company to come in that isn’t tribal and open a competing casino.

Competition among businesses is good for us. Alas, that’s not the case in Washington State and many other states, unfortunately, where gambling is allowed only in tribal casinos.

Case in point.

Sure, I get that they don’t technically fall under the same laws, but an arts & crafts store called Hobby Lobby is not being allowed to reopen, one that is following social distancing and safety measures vs. a gigantic tribal casino and it defies logic.

“They are not allowed to open under this phase,” said Mike Faulk, press secretary for Inslee. “It’s a state prohibition, so I’m not sure why they would ask local officials to give them clearance.”

Inslee’s office: Hobby Lobby openings in Spokane area violate virus restrictions | The Spokesman-Review

The article details that Hobby Lobby can be open, but only for curbside pick-up, not for customers to come inside the store because their business is non-essential and prohibited from opening at this phase in the Washington State rollout plan.

Aye, the rub. Meanwhile, casinos are reopening which have dramatically more foot traffic than an arts & crafts store.

Movie theaters can’t open in Washington State because we’re not at that same phase. Maybe I should be wishing that tribes buy theaters so they could do so.

Don’t get me started on how a casino could be any less high risk than a movie theater.

The “Popup” Phenomenon – COVID-19 Stats in Washington State still trending upward with 2,000+ deaths nationwide, 30,000+ globally

The graphics via The Seattle Times shows the primary danger of fatality is age 70+

On the east coast, in the interest of social distancing, there is/has been popup drive-thru coronavirus testing:

At the recommendation of a doctor, those with an appointment can drive up, get swabbed by medical professionals and be on their way back home without the risk of exposing many more health care professionals and the general public than if they were at a hospital. Results are said to take about a day or so to come back.

1st drive-thru coronavirus pop-up testing site continues at Glen Island Park

Haven’t heard about anything like this in Washington State, but it’s a good idea. Our state, unfortunately known as the first state where this appeared in the United Stated, we’re in the midst of a two-week “stay at home” order. My wife and I both work in “essential/critical” jobs, so we are still going to work somewhat normally. I’m taking two days off, which is a little abnormal, considering I usually work six days. That extra day is my extra way of providing additional social distancing.

There is one question on our minds, probably on everybody’s minds that lives in this state (and elsewhere around the world, too):

Is the pandemic near its peak?

With 2,000 nationwide now dead from the disease, 189 in Washington state, we don’t appear to have reached the peak in America, but if we use China that is about 45 days ahead of us in their results, we could be nearing that point.

As the article linked above indicates, about 2/3 of America are in shelter in place or stay at home orders, some 215 million Americans and counting. My wife and I are carrying around copies of emails on our phones which authorize our status as allowed to work, just in case we’re stopped. One of my wife’s co-workers has been stopped and questioned.

The Seattle Times maintains a live updated page containing the COVID-19 statistics for Washington State residents. The top of this blog post shares Friday 3/27 statistics and here are Saturday 3/28:

A 587 jump between 3/27 and 3/28 for confirmed cases and 14 deaths

I’ve been clicking over there once a day to see the changes from day to day and trying to use this as a gauge for when the virus shows signs of receding and more businesses might be able to reopen again.

The [Washington] state Department of Health announced 516 newly confirmed cases Friday, bringing the state total to 3,723 cases, including 175 deaths. The bulk of Washington’s cases remain in King County, which haas seen 1,828 people fall ill and 125 die.

Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, March 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the nation | The Seattle Times

It would seem the jump in people newly tested and affected is rising, not falling or leveling off yet, but remaining hopeful that these times are the worst right now and it will level off and began to recede soon.

While you might not expect this kind of coverage here, this pandemic is affecting nearly everything we regularly do.

It might seem inconsequential or unimportant to mention movies as recreation and entertainment during these times, but this sort of escapism is part of the cure mentally. We need to focus on something other than only the unseen enemy in our midst. Books, movies, TV, the internet, thank goodness we have you!

So, movies, let’s talk.

Movie theaters are shuttered, too, of course, but some pop-up drive-ins are starting to appear.

What are pop-up drive-ins?

Previously, we discussed a resurgence of some drive-in theaters. Unfortunately, in our area the drive-in theaters have delayed opening, due to the shelter in place order in our state.

I wasn’t familiar with what a “pop-up drive-in” experience was, until I started seeing articles like this one: Hundreds Show Up to Pop Up Drive Up Movie Night in Gering

A business at pop-upcinema.com around setting up portable drive-in movie theaters

Googling, I learned that there is a business operating in South Africa which specializes in the popup drive-in experience (pictured above). Instead of a bouncy house, it’s a gigantic screen filled with air. Cars roll into parking lots or other big areas and the screen is displayed for all to watch. The sound is transmitted using Bluetooth, it seems.

Openair.us operates in the United States, selling an 18 foot inflatable screen that weighs 17 pounds!

Some of these pictures do not depict the proper 6′ social distancing, but hey, the screens look cool!

There are various companies who sell popup movie screens if you already have a projector and a huge open space on your property so you could make your own outdoor popup drive-in theater.

Years ago, we had a really bad storm in our area that took out all power for several days. I remember reading by candlelight and cuddling up in heavy blankets to stave off the cold. That reminded me how much we take for granted lights and power. Luckily, we don’t have weather issues piling on, too.

Hopefully, soon we can begin to post signs that the other stuff going on is receding, more people can return to work, businesses can reopen and the economy can begin rebuilding and healing.

I’m going to keep on writing about movies, TV and other entertainment and recreation. Pull up a chair, light a good fire if you have a woodstove or a virtual one and let’s get lost in the wonderful world of imagination.