The seating arrangement,
designed to encourage social distancing among
the 15 real-life patrons who will be allowed
into each screening, is one of the new safety
measures theaters are putting in place to reduce
the chance of coronavirus spread.
"We're going above and beyond to make sure that
everything is spotless and that audiences feel
comfortable and safe being with us for two to
three hours," owner Christian Meoli said.
It is unclear, however, when Meoli and other
theater operators will be able to welcome back
While about 780 indoor cinemas have reopened
around the country, officials in Los Angeles
County, the largest moviegoing market in the
United States, have not yet given a green light,
voicing concern about a rise in coronavirus
cases. New York City, the country's No. 2 movie
market, also has not set a date for cinema
The theater business has been devastated by the
coronavirus shutdowns that began in mid-March,
laying off tens of thousands of employees and
borrowing funds to stay afloat.
The industry is hoping for mass openings in
July, when nationwide chains AMC Entertainment,
Cinemark and Cineworld's Regal Cinemas are
scheduled to be back in business. All plan
safeguards including limited attendance, extra
cleaning and face masks for guests and workers.
Walt Disney Co has said it will roll out action
epic "Mulan" on July 24. AT&T Inc's Warner Bros.
had been set to follow with director Christopher
Nolan's thriller "Tenet" on July 31, but the
studio postponed the debut until Aug. 12.
[to top of second column]
More shuffling of the schedule
could come, depending on the progress of the
Currently, the first widely released film on
Hollywood's schedule is "Unhinged," a road rage
drama starring Russell Crowe, set to debut on
Crowe said he was
encouraged to hear reports that moviegoers have
been longing to head back to cinemas, especially
"They wanted to be back in that place, in that
safe place, in that room, where all the
craziness is just happening on the screen, not
necessarily in their own lives," Crowe said in
In Los Angeles, movie fans had mixed opinions
about heading back to theaters.
"I'm a big cinema-goer, so for me, it would be
just to make sure that social distancing is in
place" along with other steps such as
pre-packaging of concessions, said Sean Thomas,
an accountant visiting from Chicago. "That would
make me feel comfortable."
Others were not so eager.
"You can watch movies at home, so I don't think
that's super essential," said screenwriter Matt
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional
reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Cynthia
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