Movie theaters reopen today in Michigan – here's everything you need to know

Posted at 8:03 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 08:03:14-04

After several months shuttered, Michigan movie theaters are re-opening and welcoming guests back to the big screen in a limited capacity.

Emagine Theaters re-opens its ten Michigan locations Friday at 3 p.m. and Phoenix Theatres, with three locations in the metro Detroit area, will have its first re-opening show around noon on Friday.

Theater owners are hoping guests return to the movies in the masses, however you won't see any packed auditoriums, as they're operating at 20 percent capacity.

Emagine Chairman Paul Glantz said he's optimistic movie-goers will return, although he expects a gradual rebound.

“There will be people perhaps who have health conditions that will be slower to adopt, but the most important thing to us if that we’re finally re-opening. Now we get to demonstrate empirically that it is safe," he told Action News.

To make sure that happens, Emagine staff will wear masks, there will be hand sanitizing stations around the theaters, and guests must wear masks when they're not eating or drinking. Glantz said patrons will also notice changes to inside the theaters themselves.

“Stickers on the floor providing for social distancing. They will probably buy their tickets online to create a more touch-less experience. Refills will come with fresh cups as opposed to reusing cups," he said.

There are additional cleaning measures and safety protocols in place for all theaters, outlined by the National Association of Theatre Owners "CinemaSafe" program.

“We felt it was really important to have a standardized situation that was used for theaters across the country to ensure customers safety and our employees’ safety as well," said Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theaters.

Like Emagine, Phoenix and theaters around the country took a financial hit during the lock-down.

“It is certainly the most challenging thing that I know that I’ve ever encountered and I’ve been in the movie theater business, I started when I was 14-year-old popping popcorn," Jacobson told Action News.

Glantz said what made temporary closures even more difficult is all the fixed costs associated with running a theater.

“In July and August alone we paid over a million dollars in property taxes on buildings that had sat fallow for almost 6 to 7 months," Glantz said.

Frontline workers will receive a free movie ticket for themselves and a guest starting Friday thru Oct. 15, with a valid work ID.

As for the seats inside the movie theater, two seats will be blocked off to separate each party -- allowing for around seven feet of social distance per group. There will also be a longer period between films to allow for additional cleaning.

Concession workers will wear gloves, however concession options and pricing, just like tickets, will remain the same at all Emagine locations.

Beginning in the next few weeks, Glantz said Emagine theaters will start allowing guests to not only order their tickets online, but also their concession items, for a totally touch-less movie experience.

During the pandemic, many Hollywood projects delayed production or release, which means that new blockbusters might be few and far between until Christmas. However, Glantz sees a silver lining in this.

"It’s true that a lot of films were postponed, so when you look at the 2020-2021 film line-up it’s going to be stellar," he said.

There are still some new films debuting. Click here to see what's showing near you:

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.