Photo Courtesy of Murfreesboro Voice
Story by Kenya Anderson/Contributing Writer
It’s obvious that COVID has changed the way moviegoers will experience the cinema for the foreseeable future. Movie theaters were once an escape from reality or a time for bonding between family and friends, but that “escape” will now contain added precautions to make sure everyone is following COVID guidelines.
Going to the movies was a frequent experience for many in Murfreesboro, like MTSU students Ashley N. Hamblin, 22, and Danielle Schwartz, 30.
“I was going way too much,” Hamblin said, laughing. “At least once a week, sometimes two depending on what movie is out.”
Schwartz reported that she went to the theater “at least twice a month with [her] son.”
Even for patrons who weren’t going that often, theaters being closed for the last few months has created a forced adjustment period.
Tanner Morris, 22, recalled, “I didn’t go often, but I would go to hang out with my friends”
“I would go every couple of months,” said MTSU student Brittany McDonald, 20.
Theater chains are offering deals to entice moviegoers. AMC is selling regular popcorns, drinks and KidsPacks for $5 each, and showing new movies like “Tenet” and “New Mutants” alongside older favorites like “Black Panther” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Regal is offering $5 movies for fan favorites, including “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Dark Knight.”
Companies are trying to do their part to make sure cinemas are safe. AMC, Regal, and other theaters have announced new cleaning plans for their re-openings. To enforce their protocols, AMC has a new initiative called “Safe & Clean.” They will be requiring masks, keeping space in between seats and offering more online options to order tickets, food and drinks.
Regal will be following similar guidelines, and to make sure the rules are being followed, they will have employees in the auditoriums.
Movies that were once delayed have set new dates to be shown on the big screen, so people are still hopeful. “Tenet” debuted Sep. 4, and other movies like “Black Widow” and “No Time To Die” are planned to release in November.
“My grandmother and I went to see Rocky,” Hamblin said. “We made sure to spray everything down ourselves when we got there. Even with them cleaning you can never be too careful.”
Morris hasn’t gone back yet, but commented, “I would go, maybe with some friends, just to get a sense of normalcy.”
Others aren’t quite sold on the idea of going back.
“I think it’s awesome they’re showing old movies,” said McDonald. “I just personally don’t feel comfortable yet.”
“Because I’m high risk, I won’t,” Schwartz said. “If I wasn’t, it would depend on how much they are sticking to cleaning protocol.”
Unless something changes drastically in the new world of COVID, people like McDonald and Schwartz are putting their health ahead of their love for movies.
“There’s nothing they can really do [for me to go back]. It would have to be a decline in cases,” McDonald explained.
“I love going to the movies and making those memories with my son,” Schwartz said. “But me being high risk, I’m not comfortable going yet.”
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