How to enjoy a movie in theaters during a pandemic

By Jen Warner

As a result of the global pandemic, the movie theater industry is among the countless industries that have had to adjust their business models to keep from closing their doors for good.

With COVID-19 remaining a prevalent threat, many people have avoided the box office altogether for more than a year now.

As more people begin to receive their vaccines and the country slowly moves towards immunity, movie theaters are working to provide a safe and alternative movie going experience for their patrons just in time for Academy Awards season.

From private showings to pop-up drive ins, below is a list of some of the ways film lovers can safely enjoy a movie nearby on the big screen.

The theaters represented in this list have all implemented similar strict safety protocols, including mask wearing, reduced touch points, simplified menus, reduced auditorium capacity, social distancing standards, rigorous cleaning protocols, and more

Links containing more information about local movie theater offerings and COVID-19 safety protocols have been provided for those looking to learn more.

Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI)

Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s historically replicated marquee gives the community information about their new private showings. Photo by Jen Warner.

BMFI is now offering private theater rentals. For a fee ranging from $250 to $400, depending on the day and time, private theater rentals allow up to 15 people to enjoy a film of their choosing in one of their four theaters. 

Renters can provide a Blu-ray Disc, DVD, mp4 file, or streaming service selection to BMFI with a run time of up to two hours and 15 minutes long. Additionally, renters can enjoy up to $100 worth of concessions free of charge.

In addition to private showings, BMFI is currently offering “BMFI Film Studies Online.” Free to the public, this is a distance learning opportunity for those interested in learning more about film.

BMFI is also offering “Stage on Screen,” which allows viewers to stream live digital theater productions, dance performances, museum exhibitions, and operas.

Lastly, BMFI is launching their own online film hub called “Theatre Five.” Through this option, viewers can enjoy exclusive new releases, film introductions and discussions, curated movie selections, and the chance to connect with other film lovers from the safety of home.

For more information about BMFI’s offerings, visit www.brynmawrfilm.org.

For more information about BMFI’s COVID-19 response, visit www.brynmawrfilm.org/health-and-safety/

AMC Theatres

After facing some closures over the last year, many AMC Theatres have reopened or will reopen soon for more traditional showings. Still, AMC has continued to offer options to satisfy all comfort levels. 

AMC is offering private theater rentals to its patrons at many of their local locations. For a fee ranging from $99 to $299 depending on the film’s release, private theater rentals allow up to 20 people to select one of more than 30 available titles. 

From new releases, such as “Godzilla Vs. Kong,” to classics such as “Field of Dreams,” to animated films such as “The Lorax,” AMC’s private theater rentals offer titles that appeal to viewers of varied interests.

Customers can also now order concessions for pick up directly from the AMC app without having to wait in line.

Lastly, AMC has launched their own on demand service, making it possible to rent and own movies to watch at home starting at under $4. 

For more information about AMC’s offerings, visit www.amctheatres.com.

For more information about AMC’s COVID-19 response, visit www.amctheatres.com/amc-safe-and-clean

The Movie Tavern

Local Movie Taverns are now open to the public for limited showings of new releases. Customers can also once again enjoy $5 movies on Tuesdays, $6 student tickets on Thursdays, and $6 early bird movies daily before 11a.m.

For those seeking a more intimate setting, The Movie Tavern is also offering a private cinema rental option. For a fee starting at $99 depending on the film, private cinema rentals allow up to 20 people to enjoy a film chosen from a small, provided selection.

For a limited time, customers who choose this option will receive two complimentary return movie passes to be used before June of 2021.

The Movie Tavern is not currently offering their popular in-theater food service, but they’ve made it so concessions can be ordered via the app and picked up in their designated areas so that patrons can still enjoy their favorite theater treats. 

Lastly, their bar, restaurant, and lounges will be open for limited hours with increased safety protocols. 

For more information about The Movie Tavern’s offerings, visit www.marcustheatres.com.

For more information about The Movie Tavern’s COVID-19 response, visit www.marcustheatres.com/reopening

Philadelphia Film Society (PFS)

PFS will hold their 8th annual Oscars party and screening on April 25 at Cira Green in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of www.filmadelphia.org.

Last year, the PFS began showing drive-in movies at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia in an effort to welcome the area’s movie lovers in a safe setting. This year, PFS is bringing the option back.

According to their website, “PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard is able to accommodate up to 180 cars per screening on the venue’s 2-screens, films will be shown via top-of-the-line digital projection on a large screen fastened to stacked shipping containers, creating optimal vantage points for attendees.”

In addition to showing titles like “Nobody” for a fee of $12 per adult and $7 per child, PFS is planning free community events throughout their open season which started in early March and will run until fall of this year.

PFS has also planned an Oscars party and screening for April 25, 2021 at Cira Green in Philadelphia. This event is for adults ages 21 and older, with general admission starting at $60 and VIP tickets being offered for a fee of $200.

Attendees are encouraged to “dress to impress” as they enjoy walking their own red carpet, complimentary food & drink options, a silent auction, and a broadcast of the 93rd annual Academy Awards “live on the largest outdoor screen in Philadelphia.”

This event is a fundraiser, and all proceeds fund PFS’s mission to “create opportunities for diverse communities to experience film through initiatives that inspire, educate, challenge and entertain.”

PFS is also offering virtual a virtual theater option in which viewers can stream a curated film selection at home, as well special events such as their virtual throwback Quizzo and movie night.

For more information about PFS’s offerings and COVID-19 response, visit www.filmadelphia.org.

Contact Jen Warner at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu. 

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