Cineplex prepares to open 3 Calgary theatres Friday with $5 admission

Theatres have been forced to dim the lights and close the doors during the COVID pandemic. But now that restrictions are easing up, the big screen is making a comeback.

Plans include physical distancing, extra cleaning and reserved seating

Cineplex Theatres are opening this weekend. All staff will be wearing masks, and seating will physically distanced with guests at least two metres apart. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Theatres have been forced to dim the lights and close the doors during the COVID pandemic. But now that restrictions are easing up, the big screen is making a comeback.

Cineplex has announced that it's reopening six theatres across Alberta on Friday, three in Edmonton and three in Calgary. The rest of the Cineplex theatres will open July 3.

The experience isn't going to be quite what you remember — and there are no new movies — but rest assured, there will be popcorn.

Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex spokesperson, told CBC that all staff will be wearing masks, and patrons are "encouraged" but not required to do so. The theatres will have masks available.

"We will be using hospital-grade cleaning across our buildings," Van Lange said. "We will be wiping down seats after each and every showtime. Social distancing measures will be in place across the entire building, including decals for getting popcorn and the like, and then we have reserved seating."

Cineplex is reducing occupancy in theatres by 60 to 80 per cent. Seats can be reserved in twos, but there will be two metres between those sets of seats and the next, and every other row will be blocked off, Van Lange said.

This will apply in all of Cineplex's 1,600 auditoriums.

Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex spokesperson, says the theatre chain is opening with new COVID standards in place. (CBC News)

"That means that before you even leave your house, you have peace of mind of knowing that your seat in the auditorium will be distanced from your neighbour's," Van Lange said.

She added that a family group of three or four will be allowed to sit together, and the staff will adjust physical distancing around them.

But what's going to be on the screen? With no new releases out there right now, Van Lange said theatres will be screening old favourites for a $5 flat admission.

"We'll have to wait a few weeks for new releases to come out," she said. "In Alberta, you can look forward to Birds of Prey, the new Jumanji, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the best part is the price point — it's five dollars for any experience.

Van Lange said that applies to recliner seats and the wall-to-wall screens of an ultra AVX auditorium.

$3 Tuesdays

"Across the board, regardless of the experience, it's five dollars, and it's three dollars on Tuesday."

When it comes to the concession, there have been some adjustments.

"Our famous popcorn will certainly be available." Van Lange said. "We will be working with core concessions, so that means our nachos, our hot dogs and our popcorn, and of course our fountain pop and beer and wine will all be available. But if you're looking to have a poutine, that will be part of Phase 2."

Cineplex will open Crowfoot Crossing Cinemas, Sunridge Spectrum Cinemas and Seton Cinemas & VIP on Friday.

With files from Rob Brown


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