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AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas in Wichita reopen

It's seen as a step forward for smaller cinemas and other entertainment businesses.
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 7:50 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - AMC Theatre and Regal Cinemas in Wichita are set to reopen Aug. 20 and 21, respectively.

On reopening day, AMC is offering movie tickets at 1920 prices: 15-cents (plus sales tax). The sale is also to celebrate their 100 year anniversary.

AMC will offer a “bring-back title,” such as “Inception,” “Black Panther,” “Grease” and more for only $5.

The theater’s COVID-19 protocols include reducing the maximum number of tickets allowed per screening, allowing for social distancing between showings, increased sanitation measures, and mandatory mask wearing for all guests.

Regal Cinemas is also implementing a mandatory face mask policy.

Regal locations in Wichita that open on Aug. 21 are Warren West and Warren East. The two other sites will open the following weekend.

It is seen as some positive news as the entertainment industry has been left to largely limb along as the COVID-19 pandemic delivers the industry an especially hard blow.

“Feel for them having to be shut down for as long as they were,” said Brent Bowers, the general manager at Northrock Lanes next door to AMC’s Northrock 14 Cinema. “That’s the nature of the beast right now. We’re excited for them to reopen and for our entertainment complex to get back full functionality.”

At Northrock Lanes, the bowling alley reopened a couple of months ago.

“Summertime is usually not a crazy time for any bowling center here in Kansas. The warm weather usually draws folks out to lakes and ponds,” said Bowers.

Although it has still been a challenge with enhanced cleaning, social distancing and wearing face masks.

“We want them wearing the masks. We don’t want to be shut down again,” said Bowers. “We say we’re in the business of making people, not just some people, everybody, and it’s an impossible task, but we’re doing our very best to satisfy the needs of all of our guests.”

The real test for Northrock Lanes of how well business bounces back is in the months ahead.

“August, this is the beginning of our fall league bowling season. Most of our fall leagues are on the floor by the end of this month,” Bowers said.

The movie theatre next door opening back up can’t hurt.

Bowers said, “We believe that their traffic helps us. Our traffic helps them.”

It’s not just Northrock Lanes hoping this will provide a boost, smaller cinemas like Kingman Historic Theatre sees the larger theatres reopening as giving the entertainment industry a start on the rebound it desperately needs.

“If bigger theaters do not open and do not support the movies, they’re not going to release movies,” said Deena Lampe, Kingman Historic Theatre General Manager. “We are seeing that as a very positive step that the bigger, more cinematic type of theatre is opening. Then that there is a need there and want there.”

Lampe added, “That tricks into the smaller, hometown theatres that people are ready to go to the movies again.”

Kingman Historic Theatre said they learned Thursday when the new movie in the X-Men franchise “New Mutants” is released later this month; the Kingman Historic Theatre will be one of the big screens it will show on opening weekend.

“Waiting months to be able to post and it was all caps because I was able to say just confirmed, the opening weekend of the “New Mutants” and I think that basically says the industry is ready for people to get back into the theatres and I think they’re thinking it’s probably safe again. It’s exciting for us because we work really head to get new movies here on opening weekend,” said Lampe.

Kingman Historic Theatre General Manage Deena Lampe said they were fortunate their not for profit theater never had to completely close.

“People are seeing that we’re trying to stay open, so they’re being very supportive of us in the financial giving aspect,” Lampe said.

She added, “Leave tips at the concession jar or charitable donations at the door, so it’s kind of evened itself out and in a way, we’re kind of actually more ahead doing these kinds of movies than we were selling tickets because such a percentage of those ticket prices went back to the production company.”

During the first few weeks of stay at home, they did concessions to-go.

Working with the local health department, they soon offered small group, 15 person limit, private showings, which they’re continuing to offer.

In the past few months, they’ve offered free retro movies with a 45 person capacity in their theatre that fits typically about 273.

“A local business would sponsor a movie, and the community would come in free of charge,” said Lampe.

Lampe said a few weekends ago, grandparents helped to sponsor their last movie.

The theatre has also been attracting new patrons. Lampe said they have people regularly coming from Goddard, Cheney and other areas.

“Our particular theatre, we’re kind of coming out ahead because we’re getting a customer base if it was not for COVID because everybody else is closed, here we are opening and still making a go of it. People are very respectful of that,” said Lampe.

Amanda Cousins, Kingman Historic Theatre Concession Manager, said, “There’s families that don’t get out much now, or they can’t afford to get out, and with all these free movies, they’re able to come down here and have a few hours and enjoy. Family time to get away from what is going on in the world today.”

That’s the reason these entertainment businesses said they keep going because people want an escape.

“Keep the marquee lights on, keep the popcorn popping,” said Lampe.

Kingman Historic Theatre and Northrock Lanes said constant and enhanced cleaning have become one of their key priorities to keep their guests safe. Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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