Among the movie theaters preparing for the return of audiences is the IFC Center in Greenwich Village.
Theater crews have worked hard to get the place ready for movie goers again. It last welcomed audiences on March 13, before shutting down for the pandemic. General Manager John Vanco said that after nearly a year of uncertainty, he was excited to hear that movie houses could start showing films again.
"At some point it seemed like, you know? Well, is this ever going to happen? And is it going to be summertime before this happens?" he said. "So, I think it came as a little bit of a surprise."
Under the new state rules, it's impossible to have a packed house. Theaters can only open at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen. Seating is reserved and everyone must be masked. To make sure audience members keep their distance from each other, crews have roped off rows. The theater has also made everything it can touchle,ss with hand sanitizer readily available for the things it can't.
"It's going to be a different experience for audiences coming here. At the core, once you are seated and you've got your mask on and you turn your focus to the screen, the experience of watching the movie is going to be the same," Vanco said.
It's not part of the state's requirements, but the IFC Center will keep its concession stand closed and not allow any food in the theater. Vanco said they made the decision to do so after speaking with the theater's members and learning they would feel safer with people keeping their masks on the whole time.
"We want to reassure people with our policies in going above and beyond the safety policies. We want to reassure people that this is a safe activity," he said.
Although it will be a new experience for everyone, Vanco said he does not think the new rules will take away from the magic of the movies.
"You're going to have the same amazing transformative experience of watching cinema that you've had your whole life," he said. "And that is, I think, a really special experience to be able to promise New Yorkers."