Returning to theaters

Zsuzsanna Juhasz

More stories from Zsuzsanna Juhasz

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Photo courtesy of Khou

As Covid restrictions are being lifted, eager moviegoers are happy to return to the theaters. In Houston, people have improvised in a safer way; they watched from outside in comfortable chairs under a bright purple sky.

Before Covid-19, attending movie theaters was a pastime that many students enjoyed. They loved it not only for the in-person experience and thrill that came with watching exciting and trending movies on the large screen, but also for all the other benefits that came with it. The buttery popcorn, sweet/sour candies and cold drinks—the food in general was a perk that movie-goers loved. Theaters brought (and still bring) people together, a Friday night activity that friends and couples alike enjoyed.

The movie environment has certainly changed since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Before the pandemic, viewers would be snacking and occasionally—although they shouldn’t have been—whispering and talking. It offered plenty of opportunities for people to catch the virus, so shutting down theaters was the best choice to prevent the major spread of Covid-19.

Now that the height of Covid-19 has passed, theaters have opened again, but not without the new strict regulations to keep patrons safe from spreading and catching the virus.

Covid-19 protocols in Maryland require guests and employees alike to social distance and wear masks; consistently disinfecting and cleaning the movie area is also emphasized and prioritized. Other requirements such as limiting the size of groups sitting together; enabling advanced payment and creating availability for wipes, hand sanitizer and paper towels in bathrooms have all been important to incorporate into movie theater environments.

“I still try to go today, but it’s not the same. It feels like too much has changed,” freshman Anna Shetsiruli said.

Theaters in or around Bethesda are still open and operating. The closest ones available include the cinema on Woodmont Avenue Bethesda, Ellsworth Dr in Silver Spring, Veirs Mill Road in Wheaton and K Street N.W. in D.C.

“The theater in Silver Spring was in really good condition. There were hand sanitizer stations scattered throughout the whole theater. I felt safe when I was there,” sophomore Sully Reed said.

Even though Covid-19 has slowed down film production, new and thrilling movies are being released and shown at movie theaters. New movies being played at theaters include action/adventure film “Uncharted” with Tom Holland, mystery/thriller film “Death on the Nile” with Gal Gadot and romantic comedy “Marry Me” with Jennifer Lopez.

“I recommend watching ‘West Side Story.’ I enjoyed comparing this version to the one from 1961,” junior Sydney Akpebu said.

While many of the new movies attract viewers to the movies, watching shows and movies from home has also become a frequent option.

Popular streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max and Hulu have racked up subscribers during these difficult times. Shows like “Outer Banks,” “Euphoria” and “Shadow & Bone” have become student favorites because of their complex plots, intricate detailing and attractive casts. Students have adjusted to the reality of watching films and movies from home.

“I prefer watching movies at home, because you have to be quiet in theaters, and you can’t pause it,” sophomore Nutsa Chanturia said.

Movie theaters have played a huge role in pop culture and the entertainment industry. Going to screenings is a treasured activity that has faced many alterations since the start of Covid-19. While times have been stressful and ever-changing, students are happy to stream movies and films from home, where the power of pause and volume buttons can be taken advantage of. Many excited students who are readjusting to the openings are thrilled to see theater doors open and welcome again, eagerly making up for time lost.

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