Two local movie theaters are gearing up to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic shut them down last March.
The theater that anchors Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington could be welcoming back moviegoers in May. Another Wilmington movie theater, The Pointe 14 at The Pointe at Barclay, could reopen April 23.
Regal Mayfaire & IMAX is listed as one of the Regal theaters expected to reopen May 7 in an update on Regal's website
"Regal is thrilled to welcome our guests back to movies! Select theatres will be opening April 2, in time for Godzilla vs. Kong
. Additional theatres will be opening in the weeks to follow," the website stated. "We are excited to open our doors and begin sharing our love of movies with our fans."
The announcement also included a safety note.
"As we reopen our theatres, we remain committed to the safety of our patrons and employees," according to the website, with more information about safety measures available online
Regal's announcement emphasized a caveat to its list of reopening dates.
"The listed dates below represent the currently planned reopening schedule," the website stated. "Dates for individual theatres may shift depending on their unique circumstances."
For Scott Clemons, whose family opened Coquina Fishbar, a restaurant just outside the Regal Mayfaire theater, the reopening of the theater is welcome news. The Clemons family opened the eatery around the end of last year.
"We’re ecstatic because our restaurant caters to all moviegoers," Scott Clemons said. "If you’ve got a hot date and you want to come in for a martini, have a little appetizer at the bar, or if you've got six kids and you want to have a decent meal before or after the movie, it’s kind of come-one come-all. I think we’re meant for theatergoers."
Mayfaire Town Center has already experienced an increase in shoppers, said Mayfaire spokeswoman Paige Coniglio.
"We’re seeing evidence of the pent-up demand for in-person shopping, dining, and entertainment, especially as the weather warms and people receive their stimulus checks or tax returns," she said.
As of Tuesday morning, The Pointe 14, the Stone Theatres movie theater at The Pointe at Barclay in Wilmington, remained temporarily closed and has been serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Of Stone's five theaters, only one, The Grand 14 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was open as of Tuesday.
But Stone Theatres is in the process of the many tasks necessary to reopen its other locations, including financial considerations. Funding to help with reopening expenses could be coming from the $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which is being administered by the SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance.
With the help of lawmakers, regional movie theater chains were included on the list of those eligible for the grant program, said Dale Coleman, vice president of Stone Theatres, on Tuesday.
"We’ve been patiently but anxiously awaiting information on when they’re going to open the application process," Coleman said. "They have announced a date for that, which is April 8."
He said other considerations include the hiring or rehiring of employees, preventative maintenance, repairs and cleaning of the theaters, and the slate of movies on offer. The movies showing are key, Coleman said, to being able to keep the theaters open and keep guests coming.
"We start ramping up through May [with film releases] and then you get into June and July, you’ve really got some very, very good titles and that also gives us more time for vaccinations and more time for people to get used to getting out and about," he said. "We think it will gradually get stronger and stronger as we go through the summer."
Another Wilmington theater, AMC Classic Wilmington 16, 111 Cinema Drive, is currently open three days a week – Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to the theater's website.