Movie theaters opened in New York City on Friday after being closed for about a year due to the coronavirus.
State guidelines released last month allow theaters to operate at 25 percent of capacity up to a maximum audience size of 50 people, according to Reuters.
Theaters are also required to enforce social distancing rules.
“It feels amazing. It feels really good,” said a city resident named Alex. “As soon as I read the movie theaters were open, I got a ticket literally 10 minutes later.”
AMC Entertainment Holdings opened all 13 of its New York City theaters on Friday.
“We’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. This road to recovery is happening,” said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian, who said theaters will not be put out of business by streaming services.
“I’m very optimistic about the future of the movie theater industry,” he said.
Although theater chains may have barely weathered the storm, smaller theaters are uncertain what the new rules will bring.
Andrew Elgart, owner of the Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn, is among the doubters, according to WABC-TV.
“My biggest screen has over 220 seats, which means I can put 50 people,” he said. “My other theatres have 100 seats, which means I’ll only be able to do 25. It’s, ‘How much are we going to lose?’ Tons? Half? Or do we close and not lose as much?”
Likewise, movie fans were divided.
Charles Swencionis of Manhattan said he was holding off for fear of his health.
“I mean I’ve had my second vaccination, and it will be fully effective next week,” Swencionis said. “But I’m not ready, and people are opening too fast all over the country.”
But other New York City residents were anxious to return to a theater.
“Well, it feels great, especially after so much time,” said Damian Begley. “I don’t subscribe to any streaming services, so … it feels so good to be back.”
“We have to try and get back to normal somehow,” said Carlos Marte of Washington Heights, according to WABC.
“I like movies. Movie theaters will always have a place. It doesn’t matter if there’s streaming services. There’s nothing like coming to the movies with your family, your kids and the smell of popcorn and stuff,” he said.
Taylor Lezhen, 25, said it’s the popcorn that is drawing her, not the movie.
“I have no idea what’s coming out,” Lezhen said, according to Variety. “I just want to go and sit there.”
Movie buffs may need to get to the theaters soon if White House COVID-19 guru Dr. Anthony Fauci is correct.
Fauci on Friday said he expects a new spike in cases.
“We’ve just now recently experienced the worst surge,” Fauci said, according to the New York Post. “The issue is that we are starting to plateau. That plateau is about 60,000 to 70,000 cases a day. When you have that much viral activity in a plateau, it almost invariably means that you are at risk of another spike.”
“Many countries in Europe have seen just that — over the past week, an increase in cases by 9 percent, something we desperately want to avoid.”
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