Movie theaters return masked up.

Illustration courtesy of Casper Jay Savoie
Movie theaters have started to reopen after closing their doors back in March when the first wave of COVID-19 hit. Before anyone knew, the whole country was isolated. The one thing I missed the most was going to the movies. Even if the theaters were open, all the movie releases had been pushed back. 

I kept seeing the TV commercials for these movies supposedly coming out in the last week of August, and then, what do you know? Theaters announced their reopening plans. A few new movies were scheduled to be released simultaneously, hoping to attract people back during such an uncertain time. 

With the reopening comes new health and safety procedures. Masks are always required, of course, except when you devour all that movie theater popcorn you have missed in the last six months so much. Plastic shields are everywhere, including in front of the door attendant. 

When I tried to hand her my ticket, she instead scanned its barcode. As someone who has enjoyed going to the movies since childhood, my heart broke a little when she didn’t rip my ticket stub. It broke the sacred ritual of going to the theater. We always take advantage of the little things, but when they disappear, we miss them terribly. 

I stood in a socially distanced line to get my drink,just in case I got hot or thirsty from wearing my mask. The soda was the only thing I bought at the shielded concessions counter. The cup advertised the upcoming James Bond film, “No Time To Die” and its original release date, April 2020. I must say it’s not the most appropriate cup six months into a global pandemic. 

The one thing that did not change was the crowded condiment stand. It was difficult squeezing through a few people to grab a straw. In a time when the safest thing to do is stay six feet away from people, crowding in a confined common area was slightly jarring. The theater had taken such significant steps in keeping the public and their employees safe everywhere else but there. 

In my smaller theater, the seats were reserved and limited to follow social distancing requirements. The best thing about that is you do not have to worry about strangers sitting next to you. 

I kept my mask on throughout the entire movie; I didn’t want to take it off, honestly. It made me so nervous, I only had one or two sips of soda. But even though the mask initially annoyed me, it faded into the background once the movie began. 

Sitting there, in a movie theater I hadn’t stepped into for months, was one nerve racking experience. I struggled to pay attention because the voice in the back of my head waited for a cough or sneeze, but thankfully, the around 15-20 people in my theater were quiet. There is still a chance COVID-19 cases will rise and theaters will shut down again, but this one of the most normal experiences I have had since the pandemic started. It was a reminder things can and will get back to normal. Even if this is our new normal, we can endure. 

About Author

Jordan Jones was hired as the Culture reporter for the Mesa Legend in January of 2020. She is in her second semester at MCC, and she plans to transfer to ASU and get an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Film Study and Art History. With her degrees and passion for cinema, Jordan intends to become a film archivist.

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