Classic Cinemas CEO Chris Johnson is convinced that people are ready to take in a movie again on the big screen.
After being closed since July, Charlestowne 18 movie theater in St. Charles along with other Classic Cinemas movie theaters are set to reopen Thursday.
“There’s a certain comfort involved in moviegoing and the numbers illustrate that,” Johnson said. “And so I am not worried that our industry won’t come back. It’s just a matter of the timing on it.”
Charlestowne 18 had reopened on June 26 for a brief period as the state moved into phase 4 of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. It had been closed since mid-March of last year as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Classic Cinemas then made the decision to close its movie theaters on July 9 because of the lack of new movies. Johnson is hopeful that when its movie theaters reopen, that they will stay open.
“We don’t take closing down lightly and we don’t ever want to do that again,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure that when we reopened, that we were going to reopen for good. That was our thought process.”
Cinemark reopened seven of its Illinois movie theaters in January, including the Cinemark Tinseltown USA movie theater in North Aurora. Johnson said it makes sense to reopen Classic Cinemas’ theaters at this time, especially with “Godzilla vs. Kong” becoming the highest-grossing movie that has been released during the pandemic.
" ‘Godzilla’ kind of really kicked moviegoing into gear,” he said. “I’m really comfortable that we’re opening now.”
“Godzilla vs. Kong” will be one of the movies that will be shown at Charlestowne 18 when it reopens. Classic Cinemas is taking various health and safety precautions to ensure the safety of their patrons, including disinfecting seats after every show. All employees must pass a health and temperature screening prior to their shift and wear masks and gloves throughout their shift.
Patrons are urged to wear masks and to consider purchasing tickets online. They must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth except for the limited time they are enjoying concessions in the auditorium.
In addition, auditorium capacity will be limited to 50% with a 50 person cap based on state guidelines. The Kendall 11 movie theater at 95 Fifth St. in Oswego will reopen Thursday for the first time since Classic Cinemas purchased it from Michigan-based Goodrich Quality Theaters, Inc.
“We’re very excited about opening that theater,” Johnson said. “It’s a beautiful theater and it fits right into our circuit.”