ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Friday was premiere day for movie theaters across NYS. Theaters opened their doors for the first time since the pandemic, and were allowed to open at 25% capacity with a maximum of 50 people to a screen, in counties outside NYC that meet infection rate requirements.
It was a homecoming of sorts for movie lovers at Regal Quaker Crossing in Orchard Park. Maryanne Collson is an unlimited pass holder who used to attend movies six to seven times a week.
“You know when I see a movie like Little Women that I loved, I’ll go to see it three times because I can with that program, it’s really a great one," Collson said. "I've loved this, yeah I'm so glad to be back, I walked in today and I was like I'm home, I’m back.
Social distancing markers fill the halls. Masks are required to be worn at all times. Regal Upstate New York District Manager Mark LeChevet said the only exception is while eating or drinking in your seat.
Customers are encouraged to buy tickets in advance through the regal app, which automatically social distances seats.
“If you’re buying one ticket you’ll find seats blocked out on either side of you," LeChevet said. "If you’re buy tickets as a family, of course you can sit together, but then there will be seats blocked out on the outside of your group.”
A new feature is buying concessions on the app and receiving a notification when it's ready. LeChevet said the theater is sanitizing frequent touch points every 30 minutes.
“We’ve allocated an additional clean-up time between the shows, and we have a ULV fogger that we’re also going into the auditoriums and fogging the seats, with that same sanitizer that has the one minute kill time,” he said.
In the fight for theaters to reopen, the property owner of the Quaker Crossing Retail Center sued New York State, claiming the extended shut down was unconstitutional.
Two movies premiered Friday at Regal Quaker Crossing, Honest Thief with Liam Neeson and the horror film Empty Man. Christopher Nolan's Tenet premiered for the first time in New York.
Sheryl Speer is an unlimited pass holder and said selection will determine visits going forward, with Hollywood delaying dozens of releases.
“Depends on how the movies come out, you know 'cause, you don’t want to keep seeing the same thing over and over either, and I don’t know how that situation's going to work out with new movies,” she said.
This weekend Regal Quaker Crossing and the Walden Galleria location are running a normal schedule, with the first movie around 11 a.m. and the last movie starting around 10 p.m. Two AMC theaters also reopened Friday, along with a number of locally owned movie houses.