Popcorn pickup, sanitizing stations and posters of Darth Vader demanding you wear a mask – welcome to the future of pandemic-era moviegoing.
Movie theaters in New York City were allowed to reopen Friday at 25% capacity after almost a full year of being shuttered due to COVID-19. The news was met with a mix of elation and concern from film fans on social media, given that the city is still averaging more than 3,900 new cases per day. Having received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine three weeks ago, I felt relatively comfortable returning to two of my favorite theaters: Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, to see “My Salinger Year;” and IFC Center in Greenwich Village, where I watched “La Llorona.” I also trekked to the perpetual escalator that is AMC Empire 25, because even the most mediocre Jodie Foster movie is worth braving Times Square for.
If you’re considering going back to theaters, here’s what you should know about some of the new safety protocols in place in New York and at AMC theaters nationwide.
Assigned seats are (mostly) enforced
All three theaters I visited required me to choose my seats while buying tickets, which was pretty standard even before COVID. IFC Center enforced social distancing by taping off seats in the auditorium that hadn’t been reserved, while my server at Nitehawk, a dine-in theater, double-checked my ticket to make sure I was in the correct spot.
Although no one at AMC came into my showing of “The Mauritanian” to ensure…