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Local movie theaters prepare to reopen Friday as County moves into less restrictive Red Tier

Inside AMC movie theater.png
Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 20:45:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Now that San Diego County is in the state's less restrictive Red Tier, movie theaters are allowed to open indoors with modifications. Local theaters are preparing for their grand re-opening this weekend.

With no popcorn popping and all screens turned off, Reading Cinemas in Clairemont has been quiet.

"I'll be nice to hear screaming kids and people clapping and laughing," Food and Beverage Director Ken Gilllich said.

But now, with San Diego County in the Red Tier, things are starting to get busy.

"We're dusting everything off, we are firing up equipment, we are turning on lights," Gillich said. "Most importantly, we are scrubbing scrubbing, scrubbing, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning."

According to the state's guidelines, movie theaters can reopen indoors in the Red Tier, with a maximum of 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Reading Cinemas, which has three local locations, will open its doors on Friday.

While in the most restrictive Purple Tier, Reading Cinemas was only able to do popcorn delivery and movie streaming. Without the crowds for blockbuster films in 2020, the industry struggled to survive.

"Definitely, the belt is tighter than it's ever been, but we are hopeful," Gillich said.

In January, AMC, the world's largest movie theater chain, narrowly escaped bankruptcy thanks to more than $900 million of emergency cash flow made mostly through investors. The company announced it too would reopen 40 of its California theaters this Friday.

Gillich said he is excited to bring his children to the theater this weekend to regain a sense of normalcy.

"We're not at the end of the tunnel, but we feel like there's a glimmer of hope, and we're chugging along," Gillich said.

Starting Friday, Reaching Cinemas in Clairemont will run new movies and slightly older movies that came out around Thanksgiving and Christmas to let people watch those films on the big screen. For showtimes, click HERE.