I have only been to a movie theater twice in the last two years, with my second visit coming last Friday at Stafford’s AMC Fountains 18, 11225 Fountain Lake Drive.
Before that, my brother and I went to see Tenet in December in Houston, when masks were still required. We and most other moviegoers adhered to the guidelines, though they were not strictly enforced once you were actually in your seat with a drink and a bucket of popcorn.
This time, however, I was fully vaccinated and curious to see how many others would be joining me for my matinee screening of Space Jam: A New Legacy.
I counted 15 other people during the coming attractions, not including a few stragglers who came in and out during the beginning of the film.
If you have been to a movie theater at any time in the last 12 months, you won’t find too much that has changed from the the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But if you haven’t seen a movie on the big screen since 2019 or earlier, you’re in for a bit of a shock.
Theaters are essentially using skeleton crews now, with fewer employees taking tickets and manning the concession stand. I felt a strange feeling of emptiness and quiet that I hadn’t felt in public since before the state’s capacity restrictions were lifted in March.
Local theaters have cited CDC guidance in their COVID mitigation policies.
At AMC, masks are optional for fully-vaccinated customers, subject to change according to state and local mandates. The theater chain has another location in Sugar Land.
Star Cinema Grill in Missouri City, Cinemark in Rosenberg and Regal in Richmond all have similar policies on their websites.
At the Stafford AMC location, there were several safety measures in place, including hand sanitizer stations and disinfecting wipes in the hallways. You can now buy tickets at touch screen kiosks.
When you make your way over to the concession stand, butter and other condiments for popcorn or other snacks are offered in plastic to-go containers and even the soda fountain has a contact-free option. The Coca-Cola touch screen soda dispenser has a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone and allows users to avoid touching a shared surface.
At the end of the day, there’s something wholesome and comforting about a trip to your local cinema.
It felt great to be in a respectful, diverse crowd of all ages who were mindful of observing basic movie-going courtesies like limiting noise and cell phone use, who also showed enthusiasm and cheered during the movie’s high points and laughed at some of its sillier ones.
Whether you’re going to see LeBron James and Bugs Bunny dunk on a video-game character version of Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, or F9: The Fast Saga, the latest installment of the Fast and Furious saga, the casual moviegoer or the cinephile will be sure to find something they can enjoy.