Movie theaters back open in time for Memorial Day weekend

It’s the first Memorial Day weekend since 2019 that movie lovers can do what they most love to do… go to the movies!

Moviegoers like Deborah Armstrong making plans to go to the Simi Valley Studio Movie Grill this weekend. 

Her plan? 

"I’m going to see A Quiet Place Part II or Cruella," she said.

Karen and Joyce Medley are going to the movies this weekend and aren’t phased by the year-plus long bout with the pandemic. And for the first time in a long time, entertainment reporters we spoke with have high hopes for local movie theater box offices.

Matt Atchity is the General Manager of Moviefone. He says he expects "A bigger box office than we’ve seen in 14 months."

Fandango Correspondent Nikki Novak says, "This is the first time since the pandemic that you have two big blockbuster movies. We have Cruella and A Quiet Place Part II."

Novak says Thursday Night Previews of A Quiet Place Part II "has already raked in $4.5 million," which she says is a great number.

One correspondent after another told us the same thing we heard from Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister, "People might be eager to run to the box office. This could be the first 100-million-dollar weekend that we’ve seen since before the pandemic."

There are still COVID-19 protocols in place. Here at the Simi Valley Studio Movie Grill, Stephanie Pelka says when you order tickets on the app or in person, it’s going to prompt you to sit two seats from the next party to ensure each guest is spaced six feet apart. Some of the weekend shows are sold out.

All three of the entertainment reporters we spoke with say there are some big movies on the way this summer like Black Widow, a Suicide Squad sequel and Fast and Furious 9.

But for theater operators, it’s all about the concessions. Box office receipts go to the moviemakers. Theaters, though, count on concessions whether they are full meals and drinks like here or just popcorn and candy.

So bring on the movies. It’s time for the summer or "the Popcorn Season" as some in the movie business call it.

This popcorn season, though, there are a lot of growing pains. AMC, Regal and Cinemark say they want to drop mask requirements for those fully vaccinated and there are efforts to get to 75% capacity in the theaters. All of that is up to local health departments until June 15 when the State of California drops all requirements. 

Stay tuned! There are changes in the air.