Tulare County movie theater reopens after yearlong closure

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Everyone has a hobby.

For Louis Chapparro, it's going to the movies.

He's been deprived of that pleasure for the last year due to COVID-19.

So he knew he had to get to Galaxy Theatres in Tulare when they reopened on Friday.

"So far, so good," Chapparro said. "Keeping my distance and hoping everyone does the same so I think we'll be ok as long as everyone does their part."

One year ago, movie theaters across the country shuttered.

Now, slowly, some are opening again.

In Tulare, General Manager Freddie Gonzalez says they are using CinemaSafe COVID-19 guidelines.

"Besides face masks and PPE kits and sneeze guards, social distance markers, we also have hospital-grade filters in our HVAC units, we have air purifiers in the hallways and lobby, and we're promoting a contactless environment as well," Gonzalez said.

Theaters located in California counties with a red tier status, like Tulare County, can operate at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Jeremy Fuster, Box Office Reporter for TheWrap, says he's keeping a close eye on those state restrictions.

"Because the difference between 25% capacity and 50% capacity can mean the world of difference for these smaller theaters and whether or not they're able to stay open," Fuster said.

Fuster says the traditional format of releasing movies has changed dramatically in a short period of time.

Movies used to stay in theaters for three months.

Now they're moving to streaming services in a month, or a month and a half.

"The general sense is that it was trending that way," Fuster said. "But it probably would have been something that unfolded over the course of the next decade if it hadn't been for COVID hitting the fast forward button on this-that all of a sudden all these studios had these movies that were in the can."

But Fuster still believes blockbusters need to be released in theaters.

In the movie theater industry, he says there's very cautious optimism.

The vaccine will likely lead to more theaters opening in the months to come.

"But nonetheless we are definitely going to evolve and make it an even better model than it was before," Chapparro said.
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