Cineplex theatres see busy first week after reopening in B.C.

Movie theatre locations across B.C. have new health and safety protocols in place

Cineplex theatres reopen in B.C. under health and safety guidelines. (Nicole Gonzalez Filos)

Last week, movie lovers in British Columbia were finally able to grab a bucket of popcorn and watch the hottest new releases at their local Cineplex theatre once again.

Canadian movie theatre chain reopened their B.C. locations under the guidelines laid out in step 2 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

“We recognize the new appreciation our guests have for the theatrical experience and we can’t wait to welcome them back to our theatres, as nothing compares to the big screen and big sound that we’ve been missing for so long,” said Cineplex executive director of communications Sarah Van Lange in a press release.

Step 2 allows organized indoor seated gatherings of up to 50 people, assuming 65 per cent of the adult population received their first dose of a vaccine and the decline of COVID-19 cases continues.

On June 22, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province is moving through step 2, with 77.7 per cent of B.C.’s adult population vaccinated with the first dose.

All theatres reopening in B.C. will be doing so with enhanced health and safety measures including designating all seating as reserved only and offering limited concession service.

“We have contact tracing happening at our front doors, as well as mandatory mask enforcement for everyone to be wearing. Throughout the entire building in our general lobby, washrooms, and especially our auditoriums, we have social distancing in effect,” says Mike Ens, general manager of Cineplex Strawberry Hill in Surrey.

“[For] our auditoriums we have a system put in place so that whenever you buy a ticket all of the surrounding seats around your seat will be automatically booked off. So nobody else can sit in those seats. And that’s ensuring distancing.”

In the event that films are cancelled or rescheduled due to circumstances related to COVID-19, Cineplex will offer customers exchanges or refunds for their purchases.

Additionally, VIP cinemas will be reducing their food offerings and closing the bar and concession counters to in-person orders until further notice, however the full beer, wine, and cocktail menu is still available.

Customers can also book private movie nights starting at $125, where up to 20 people can attend and pick any movie of their choice to watch on the big screen. Groups of more than 20 can also purchase a premium private screening, including additional film selections, flexible dates and times, and discounted concessions.

Ens says business has been great since reopening.

“We’ve been very excited to be welcoming all of our patrons back into our building. It’s been even busier than we were initially expecting, which is great. And people seem very excited and happy to be back in our new and safe environment.”

Ens says the busiest films currently at Strawberry Hill are A Quiet Place: Part II, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

Ens says Fast and Furious 9, which releases in the coming weeks, is expected to be popular too.

“To my knowledge, [Cineplex screenings of classic films] have not come back right now,” says Ens. “Not to say that they won’t be returning, but in the near future I don’t have any in my foresight here.”