Theaters COVID illustration

Springfield 11, Alamo Drafthouse and other local theaters are open again, but operations are not without changes to help prevent COVID spread. 

Springfield’s local movie theaters were shut down between the months of March and August because of the COVID-19 outbreak. This has left theaters with no choice but to take great precautions to protect their businesses after reopening.

Local theaters have new health and safety guidelines. AMC Springfield 11 has taken measures to reduce touch points, including simplified menus for shorter lines at the concessions and reduced auditorium capacity for social distancing.

Masks are required at all times inside the theater, and customers can only take them off when eating or drinking. Neck gaiters, open-chin bandanas and masks with vents or exhalation valves are not acceptable, and customers will be asked to purchase a mask at the theater for $1 if they do not have an appropriate one, according to AMC.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema requires customers to order any concessions items online before entering their movie, as they will not have their menu available in theaters. Ordered food will be packaged at the customer’s reserved seating area.

Springfield 11 has cut their concessions options in half so people don’t spend as much time in line. Available options include prepackaged candy, popcorn and drinks.

Directional signs are placed throughout the local theaters and all auditorium capacities can only reach 40% right now, with patrons sitting in every other seat, according to AMC.

Upon entering the theaters, staff members will check customer temperatures through touchless, infrared thermometers. They will also ask customers if they’ve been experiencing any symptoms of the virus.

In order to avoid shared contact between cash and food handling, cash will not be accepted at this time in concessions at Springfield 11.

Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are located all over the local movie theaters. To reduce touch points, other condiments, napkins, straws and lids are located behind counters and refills are temporarily unavailable.

According to the Los Angeles Times, three out of four people are using more streaming services since COVID-19 came to the U.S. Netflix now makes over $11 billion dollars per year, and the average revenue movie theaters produce is $10.35 billion a year, according to Statista. This isn’t even including all of the other popular streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max or Disney +.

With thousands of options available, the average price for a monthly subscription to Netflix is $12.00 — while the average movie ticket costs $9.00, according to USA Today. Streaming services offer a cheap way to still enjoy movies while being quarantined and keeping people safe. According to a study held in March 2020 by Statista, just 18% of adults said that they strongly preferred seeing a movie for the first time in a theater, and 27% said that they would much rather stream the film at home than visit a cinema. Even though the 34-foot wide screen and amazing surround sound is only offered in movie theaters, people are starting to enjoy movie nights much more in the comfort of their own home and pajamas.