Take a look inside Napa County movie theater as it reopens with new practices

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ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Friday, September 18, 2020
See how Napa County theaters changed since reopening
We took a look at a Napa County movie theater that just reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered it for nearly six months.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- The ability to go to the movies may be something we can expect again soon.

Name a experience more comfortably casual than going to a matinee.

"So is this a date?" I asked Bo Greenmeyer as he stood next to Teresa Riley. "Of sorts," he said.

"Yes," she corrected.

After three years together, it had better be.

We came along to this outing to see what may be coming soon to a theater near you. We asked how long it had been since their last trip to the movies. The answer was "around six months."

That's half of a year during which so much has changed. The Cinemark-owned Century Theatres in Napa have been open a couple of weeks. In Marin, they open Friday at 25-percent capacity.

RELATED: Tour of Bay Area Century Theatres shows what will be different when you go back to the movies

From changes to concessions to an explanation about what's a movie bubble. ABC7 got a tour of Century Redwood City Downtown 20 and XD in Redwood City to give you a look at what to expect the next time you head to the movies.

"I missed it a lot coming with friends and family," said one movie-goer Thursday.

"It gives us something to do. Beats being stuck at home," added his friend.

"It's nice to see a movie and not be in your bed while watching it," Teresa told us.

See the map below to find out where your county stands and keep reading to learn what can and can't open in each color-coded category.

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window

"Our industry has never had to close until the global pandemic," said Chandra Brashears, who speaks for Cinemark Theaters.

They have adjusted by developing a new industry standard. Cinemark has strict guidelines for serving snacks, cleaning seats and surfaces and wearing masks. Keep them on. You won't be choosing your own seat like in the old days. It's assigned to you and companions, with rows taped off ahead and behind. Social distancing. We don't do that at home.

"How has your relationship survived?" we asked Bo.

"A lot of Netflix. Netflix is our best friend right now."

And it's a concern to movie theaters. Since 2000, theater attendance has dropped by roughly 1.5% a year, with 2019 being the lowest yet. Then COVID-19 added yet another challenge.

Theater owners saw such a halt in business that they urged Congress to consider a bailout in March.

"You know if you look back at VHS, the DVD and streaming, there has always been something that killed the movie theaters," said Brashears. "We have always been a stable mature industry."

Now, it's in COVID-19 recovery mode.

Teresa and Bo had the entire auditorium to themselves.

"Like a private screening. Just for us," said Bo.

Private...for now.

ABC7's Michelle Kelly contributed to this report.

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