Gadsden gets back to the movies


By Katie Bohannon, News Editor

After a seven-month hiatus, Gadsden’s Premiere Cinema 16 is back in the spotlight.

On September 3, the movie theater hosted its grand reopening since the COVID-19 shutdown, welcoming guests to unwind with a box of popcorn and enjoy an entertaining experience one new release at a time.

Gadsden Premiere Cinema 16 is part of the Phase II opening group of movie theaters nationwide, joining a few locations in South Carolina and Texas. Gadsden Premiere Cinema 16 Director Ada Woodard anticipated how the new COVID-19 regulations in place will affect movie-goers, and the cinema experience.

“It’s definitely going to change things, there is no doubt about that,” said Woodard. “It already has. But from what I’ve heard from my friends and the general movie goers in my area, friends on Facebook and close family even [is] people are ready to get back to the movies. I think it’s going to change things [for] the big picture, but we are optimistic that we are going to bounce back. We’ve got a lot of good movies coming out for the holidays and going into next year, and once [people] come in and see how responsible we’re being with distancing guidelines, cleaning and masks, I’m hoping they’ll be feeling more comfortable at that point to come back.”

While the theater welcomes the community back, new COVID-19 regulations are in place to ensure the safety and health of movie goers and staff members.  Premiere has implemented NATO’s CINEMA-SAFE protocols, which includes enhanced safety and frequent sanitization procedures in the theaters, concession, restrooms and on all contact surfaces.

Masks are required to enter the building, and face coverings are mandatory for both staff and guests except when eating and drinking. The theater’s staff is temperature-screened daily and hand sanitizers have been installed for everyone’s convenience.

The movie theater will offer a Phase I limited concession stand menu featuring one size popcorn, one size drink and all candy favorites. The concession stand will not serve nachos or hotdogs during this time. For community members who are uncomfortable with visiting the theater but miss the snacks, Gadsden Premiere Cinemas is offering curbside service with bulk bags of popcorn for $20.

For those who might feel a little leery of returning to the movie theater during this time, Gadsden Premiere Cinema 16 is setting a few theaters aside for private rentals. The rental option allows parties of 20 individuals and under to watch the film of their choice with the security and privacy of an entire theater of their own. Through theater rentals, friends and families can relax and enjoy a traditional cinema experience without compromising their peace of mind.

“I’m really excited about the rentals,” said Woodard. “It’s nice to have that as an option for those who don’t want to be in an auditorium with the general public just yet, and it’s a deeply discounted price to get a whole theater to yourself.”

Woodard discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic is altering the film industry’s relationship with movie theaters. Theaters nationwide understand that movie lovers can watch films at home, and some films are choosing to skip theaters altogether and head straight to DVDs or streaming services. Contractional changes between film studios and streaming services versus studio deals with exhibitors like Gadsden Premiere Cinema 16 have changed in a big way. But Woodard noted that despite the differences in today’s world, movie theaters still offer visitors something unique.

“What we have to focus on is the experience…and you can’t get that at home,” said Woodard. “We have to be up to par on customer service, we have to make sure they’re having a good time. People’s leisure time is important. That is your precious time off from work, and you come [to the movie theater] to kind of escape a little bit. We take that business seriously. I think [people] gain a little bit of an escape [when they visit the movie theater], like a little vacation without going out of town.”

That sense of escapism is a universe Gadsden Premiere Cinema 16 builds for its guests, with a dedicated staff guaranteed to deliver Oscar-worthy performances every visit. From the excitement that builds as viewers watch their future favorite films for the first time on a grand screen to the awe-filled aftermath once the credits roll, movie theaters provide a space for friends and families to enjoy cinema together, creating unforgettable memories and an exceptional experience each time.

“I have always been fascinated with all the different moving parts that are involved to create a film,” said Woodard. “When it all comes together, you get to see it on a huge screen. [Going to the movie theater] brings the people in the room together – they’re all experiencing that together. I think that’s kind of the magical part of cinema. It’s unfortunate we have to spread out right now, and it’s not going to be quite the same, but I really think [films and movie theaters] bring unity [for people].”

Gadsden Premiere Cinema 16 will feature two highly anticipated films as its main openers. Christopher Nolan’s thriller Tenet trails a secret agent rushing to prevent World War III, and features leading actors John David Washington, Robert Pattison and Elizabeth Debicki. Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third film following the 1989 time travelling comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter joins Tenet as Gadsden Premiere Cinema’s second major opening. The movie theater will also offer showtimes for Unhinged and The New Mutants along with family friendly films like Trolls World Tour and Sonic the Hedgehog. Both Trolls World Tour and Sonic the Hedgehog are available for a discounted ticket price.

“I really hope [the community] shows up for us, because we’re showing up for them,” said Woodard. “Theaters are hurting right now. A lot is riding on us making a good comeback, and a strong comeback.”

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