A return to movie theaters


Photo by Warner Bros.

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in Tenet.

Nick Alutto, Editor-in-Chief

Coinciding with the release of Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Tenet, many movie theatres are reopening across the United States, including theatres near Lake Forest Academy.

After months of being shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions, many movie theatres saw Tenet as the blockbuster that would let them finally reopen and draw crowds to ease the financial restraint they have been under. Theatres still must take precautions to limit potential spread of COVID-19, including being limited to less than half capacity. I went to the AMC in Vernon Hills in the beginning of September to see what the new experience was like.

In its second week at the box office, Tenet made $6,700,000. In comparison, Christopher Nolan’s last movie, Dunkirk, made $26,611,130 in its second weekend. In addition, Tenet has very little competition in terms of other movies playing against it, with it being the only real blockbuster in theatres. In comparison, Dunkirk had to be in theatres at the same time as other PG-13 major releases, like Spiderman: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes.

The driving force behind my decision to go to the movies was that, as a whole, they are currently not very crowded. The theatre I was in had around seven other people in it, and I selected a seat very close to the screen to be as far away from everyone as possible. The closest person to me was maybe 30 feet away from me.

The precautions that are in place are mandatory masks for everyone in attendance, open doors to the theatre to eliminate contact points, and less self-serve food. Most surprising of all, the soda machines are now controlled by a QR code on your phone so you don’t have to touch the screens.

AMC also claims that they clean each auditorium thoroughly between screenings; however, I still brought a pair of wipes with me to ensure that my seat was clean.

In my opinion, the biggest issue with the plan is that food and drinks are still being served. This means that customers can take their masks off momentarily during movies to eat food and drink, but it does open the opportunity for people to abuse this and take their mask off for longer periods of time. On the other hand, it makes sense from a business standpoint, since movie theatres make a hefty amount of their money in concessions,

Honestly, the overall experience didn’t feel that different. After wearing a mask everyday at school, I barely noticed my mask and the only big difference in my opinion was how few people were there. Although this may be detrimental to the movie theatre experience of seeing a movie for the first time with a large group of people, I personally wouldn’t have felt comfortable with many more people in the theatre than the small number I was with.

How successful this was for movie studios and theatres is up in the air. Warner Bros., the studio that released Tenet, has pushed their next major movie, Wonder Woman 1984, from October 2nd to Christmas. At this point, most major blockbusters (No Time to Die, Dune, Fast and Furious 9, and Black Widow) have abandoned their 2020 release dates.