Nashville, TN

Let's All Go To The Movies... Safely

Ashlyn E. Inman

Going to the Movie Theater Amidst a Pandemic

My boyfriend and I pride ourselves on being members of the entertainment industry, and as you can imagine it's been a dismal year for both of us. Don't get me wrong--we've had plenty of highlights over the last year. But when your entire industry shuts down overnight it's a hard thing to reckon with. We, like so many others, crave the normalcy and escape that a theater brings. And at this point we were desperate to watch a screen anywhere but our couch. Naturally, I thought of big cushions and a big screen; I immediately began to wonder if it would be safe to return to a movie theater.

First things first, I had to see if movie theaters were even open. Well surprise, Nashville, they are!! In all fairness, this wasn't much of a shock to me considering you can go out to a bar on Broadway any given night. And since I had already taken one for the team by venturing out to Broadway, I figured it was my duty as a journalist to check out the movie theater scene as well.

As I stated in my last article about going out, I had COVID already and am theoretically still riding on natural antibodies. However, if you have not already had the virus and/or have a serious health risk: please stay home and stay safe. No movie is worth compromising your health.

I picked the movie theater closest to our apartment and began looking at the movie options. As soon as you begin navigating the AMC website, a bright red banner greets you and gives you the option to learn more about the health and safety measures the theaters are taking. They are only seating theaters at 40% capacity and you have to reserve specific seats. On top of that, they have specific mask requirements and if your mask doesn’t meet criteria, the website states that one can be obtained for a dollar.

Now as you can probably guess from the other articles I write for News Break, I am a massive nerd. I saw that the AMC near us had tickets for “$5 Fan Favorites” and were running The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on the big screens. Bingo. A movie I enjoy, but also a movie I’ve seen before at an affordable price. I picked LOTR because if my boyfriend or I felt uncomfortable or unsafe at any point, we would have no qualms going home and watching the rest of the movie from our couch… again. 

When I booked the tickets, a bubble popped up to tell me that as soon as I purchased the tickets the seats on either side of my purchased seats would no longer be available. I could already see on the map where people had already purchased tickets and could see this rule go into effect. The website made it very clear that if you were to attend the movie, you had to follow the rules.

Disclaimer: I picked a weekend matinee show, and this may have influenced the number of people who were going to be there. If you are considering a trip to the movies, results may vary based on the time, day, and movie you are going to see.

Once we got to the theater, there were signs EVERYWHERE reminding patrons to wear their masks and reviewing the sanitation process that took place between movies. Somehow, even in a pandemic, we still had to wait in line for concessions. The difference was that any sides or popcorn toppings were in little condiment containers that were handled by the purchaser. This is a major win for all people who are finicky about just how much butter goes on their popcorn. 

If you purchased a drink in the main concession line, you were sent to another line to have your cup filled by an attendant. The theater staff had someone ready to take your drink requests for the Coca-Cola machine that offers never-ending possibilities. The entire staff was efficient and appeared to have all of the proper safety equipment they needed. A huge thank you to the workers who make it possible for us to see movies again. 

We made it to our seats and the theater was only about a quarter full. The closest people to us were at the other end of the row we were at. Sneeze guards were installed between each row, but they were short enough where they only obstructed about an inch of the screen. Then again, the obstruction may have only been due to my short stature. But that’s neither here nor there. 

In the previews, the theater reiterated its health and safety policies and stated that patrons should wear their masks at all times unless they were eating or drinking. This policy is hard to enforce because it’s a group of people sitting in a dark room, but each party had their own radius of six feet which made me feel more at ease knowing that others may keep their masks off for the whole movie. The other benefit of seeing LOTR was the fact that there were no children in the audience and we didn’t have to worry about kids running around and into our bubble.

As soon as the movie started, I relaxed into my recliner and thought all of the thoughts girls think while watching Lord of the Rings. “Why is Elijah Wood as Frodo prettier than I’ll ever be?” “Goodness, I think I’m a hobbit.” “Will Frodo and Sam ever kiss?”

We didn’t feel the need to leave early and felt safe the entire time we were in the theater. Again, this is one experience in one theater at one movie at one time. But under these conditions with the safety measures in place, I feel as if we can begin to make our way to the movies again in small doses. 

But seriously, if you could be at risk of catching COVID please wait a bit longer for vaccination. And if you don’t want to wear your mask during the whole movie, please stay home and don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Have you been to the movies since they’ve reopened? Let me know in the comments below!

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I grew up in a small town in rural California, and earned my B.F.A. at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC. After graduating, I moved to NYC where I lived for three years before relocating to Nashville. And that brings us to date! I've worked a variety of jobs from being on a farm to being on a stage to being in a cubicle. In short, I've lived the big city life, the small town life, the southern life, the northern life, and you get the idea. I'll be writing about entertainment and lifestyle topics for the most part because I have a background in theater, live in Music City, and also work for a fitness company! (Check out @WeightingForWarriors on Instagram!) ​ When I'm not writing you can probably find me reading, baking, crafting something, or screaming at a football game on TV.

Nashville, TN

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