• Dave McGuire

The New Covid Era Movie Experience

The Clarksvillian

Cautious planning for business reopening may serve as test runs for other community businesses as Clarksville looks to emerge from the Covid19 public limitations. With the challenge of limited movie theater options in the city, only two theaters - Regal RPX and Governor's Square's 10, a tipping point may arrive sooner than later.

The virus is more likely to spread person-to-person in small, indoor spaces than in outdoor ones. Which means even if theaters require masks, roped-off-seats, and increased cleaning they cannot completely eliminate the risk of customer infection.

The big chains — Regal, AMC, and Cinemark — delayed reopening to late July as cases spike throughout the country, During this same time Hollywood has begun to strategically delays new films, which is why you’ll find some regional Kentucky theaters running advertisements for second-run movies to draw crowds.

Reopening does pose health and financial risks. Theater executives are asking themselves whether they can make money at reduced capacity while balancing liabilities. Even if they can balance a financial plan, they don’t know whether enough people will return.

An important part of the overall theater experience is snacking from the concession stand. Is that part of the theater business going to be safe moving forward?

There’s an interchange of money and you’ll place your hands on the counter as you wait for your items. Both would be problematic, although some theaters will begin contactless methods for concession transactions to offset risk. As we've grown to find with all other things, we’ll have the biggest challenges related to masks. Movie goers will need to remove the masks to eat food and sip drinks. There’s really no way to eat or drink safely wearing a mask.

A recent survey that may cause additional concern in the Clarksville market was reported by Variety Magazine. The survey found 70% of people say they’d rather watch a new movie at home than theaters, if released at the same time for the same price.

The competition from Netflix, Hulu, and video-on-demand isn't new and both independent and small theaters have weathered it before. There's just something very different about predicting the future in a Covid19 world.