Movie theaters in Charlotte are back open again, here’s how they are adapting post-pandemic

 By Zach Goins

April 28, 2021

At long last, it appears that delayed theatrical releases are a thing of the past. Movie theaters across the country are beginning to reopen their doors, and Charlotte cinemas are no different. While some theaters have been open for some time now, others are just beginning to welcome movie lovers back to the big screen.

With more and more people getting vaccinated, the idea of once again enjoying a blockbuster surrounded by strangers in a crowded theater has gone from fantasy to near reality. While theaters are still operating at limited capacity and with social distancing enforcements, it’s clear that a return to normalcy is on the horizon– and a slate of long-awaited summer releases makes that return even more appealing.

So, where can you catch a movie on the big screen in Charlotte? We’re breaking down all of the city’s movie theaters and how they’re handling reopening in a post-Covid world. 

AMC Theatres 

Locations: AMC Park Terrace 6, AMC Carolina Pavilion 22, AMC Northlake 14, AMC Concord Mills 24

All AMC theaters in the state of North Carolina are now open– and most have been for a while. AMC is the largest theater chain in the world, so naturally, the company was leading the charge to get viewers back in theaters. 

The chain has new AMC Safe & Clean policies in place for added safety, which include mandatory masks (unless actively eating), reduced touchpoints, and reduced capacity in theaters. When booking tickets online, the seats surrounding your party are automatically blocked out after your purchase, creating a safe, socially-distant viewing experience. In traditional theaters, this includes one seat to the left and right, as well as the seat directly in front of and behind a viewer, while most theaters with reclining seats only blackout those beside a party. 

If you’re not quite ready to check out a film with strangers yet, AMC is also offering private theater rentals for up to 20 guests. Prices range from $99 to $249 depending on the movie selected, as new releases are on the more expensive side, while older releases and classics can be played for less. 

Regal Cinemas 

Locations: Phillips Place, Cinebarre Arboretum, Stonecrest at Piper Glenn, Starlight Charlotte 

If you’re itching to start earning points on your Regal Crown Club card again, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. The chain’s location at Stonecrest is the only Regal theater in the state that’s currently open, but it will soon be joined by Starlight Charlotte (May 7), Phillips Place (May 14) and Cinebarre Arboretum (May 21). 

When it comes to safety procedures, Regal and AMC don’t differ much at all. Regal’s CinemaSafe protocol has been approved by the National Association of Theater Owners, and covers all of the main requirements– masks, social distancing and minimal contact.

Some Regals around the country are offering private theater rentals similar to AMC’s program, but locations in North Carolina are not participating as of now.

Cinemark Theatres 

Locations: Cinemark Movie Bistro Charlotte

If you’re looking to enjoy some food while catching a new movie, Cinemark Movie Bistro is your best bet. The theater and its restaurant are back in business, and food can be delivered directly to your seat. The menu may be limited for now, but bacon cheese fries, nachos, sandwiches and wraps are more than enough to satiate moviegoers looking for something more than popcorn.

Safety protocol at Cinemark theaters is exactly like you’d expect to find at any other chain, with employees constantly cleaning surfaces, a mandatory mask policy, and plenty of distance maintained between guests.

While new Hollywood hits like Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat are beginning to release, there are still a few weeks left before things really crank up for the summer. That’s okay, though, because Cinemark’s “Comeback Classics” series is providing plenty of fan favorites worth heading to the theater to check out. These films– and any other movie at Cinemark– can be enjoyed in public, or in a private watch party, with prices ranging from $99 to $149 here

Ayrsley Grand Cinema 

Location: Ayrsley Grand Cinema 14

If you’d rather support the local theater rather than a massive, international chain, then it’s good news for you that Ayrsley Grand Cinema has had its doors open since October. Without the finances of a global chain to help get them through tough times, Ayrsley was one of the first theaters in the state to reopen when cinemas got the clearance in October 2020. Since then, throwback hits, private rentals, to-go snacks and new releases (when available) have helped the theater survive.

One perk of being the little guy versus the chain is the ability to adjust on the fly, and Ayrsley has been doing that since October. Now that comes in the form of a free small popcorn for any moviegoer who shows their Covid-19 vaccination card. 

In addition to the standard increased safety measures that all theaters are taking, Ayrsley is taking things a step further by rotating the seating used in back-to-back showings in theaters. So, if seats 1, 3 and 5 are used in one showing, the next will use 2, 4 and 6, in order to help increase safety. 

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