ARANSAS PASS – The two movie theaters in the county, Movies, Inc. in Aransas Pass and Northshore 8 Cinmea in Portland are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic very differently.

On March 19, Northshore 8 announced they would be closing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The locally-owned family business said on social media that they are “... proud to be part of the social infrastructure of our community. We know that when this challenge has passed, our movie-going patrons will look forward to returning to the magic of the movies on the big screen.”

When restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen in May with limited capacity, Northshore decided to remain closed, announcing on May 15, “Our continued closure is a difficult and painful decision born of these strange times, but wait-and-see seems to be the socially responsible decision for our community. Better safe than sorry.”

Since then, they have announced on their Facebook page that the new film “The Broken Hearts Gallery” will be coming to Northshore on July 17.

More information can be found at www.facebook.com/northshore8.

Nearby in Aransas Pass, Movies, Inc. had just opened their newest theater in early January when they were forced to close in March. They did reopen on May 15 along with restaurants and bars, but there was one problem – all the big blockbusters were pulled from their original release dates, and only a handful of new movies were being released.

The other issue with these new releases is that they are also coming to Video on Demand and streaming services so people can just stay home and watch them.

Where there’s a problem there’s always a solution, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

So how did Movies, Inc. stay open and still abide by the capacity guidelines?

“You know what? There’s no problem at all,” District Manager Troy Cady said. “Right now, I think there’s seven people here. So a lot of people think that movie theaters are packed, but they’re not.

“On the weekend, we might have 50 or 60 people, but during the weekday we might have 30 people all day. A lot of people have this misconception that movie theaters are so dangerous because there’s so many people.

“I mean literally convenience stores have more people than us at any given time.”

Cady said the movie theater opened early to prepare for the first blockbuster of the year, Disney’s “Mulan”, but it was pushed from March to May then to the end of June, and now it’s scheduled to be released Aug. 21, but even that’s not set in stone. The Christopher Nolan-directed film “Tenet” is also scheduled to be released in August and touts the tagline in their movie trailers “Only in theaters” which has given cinemas hope that it’ll bring a big bang with it for their reopenings.

“We’re waiting for the blockbusters that are going draw the people that are waiting to see them,” Cady said. “But that’s all going to be contingent on all the other theaters around the country opening.

“Right now, I think it’s when all the other theaters open is when we feel Disney will make the move to release “Mulan”.”

So what has been one of the biggest draws for those theaters that are currently open?

Older movies like “Goonies”, “Back to the Future”, “Jaws”, “Jurassic Park” and “Ghostbusters” which actually topped the Fourth of July box office for the first time in 36 years.

“Without a lot of content, we’re trying to bring back movies people are asking for, and they are asking for classics because their kids have never seen “Jaws” or “Ghostbusters” in theaters,” Cady continued.

“Also “Jurassic Park” did pretty well for us, so that’s really the only content that we know we can get for sure.”

And the real kicker is that until they can get movie studios to release new films, Movies, Inc. is only charging $3.75 a ticket but can’t guarantee how long the classics will play on their screens. Information on screenings can be found at www.movies-inc.com.

Cady also assured residents that they are continuing to abide by the strict guidelines set forth by Gov. Greg Abbott and has eliminated one of their showtimes to allow for proper disinfecting between showings. He also said that there is someone to open the doors when they come in, and the doors to the theaters remain open for at least 10 minutes after the movie starts to allow as much indirect contact with surfaces as possible.

So while America waits for Hollywood to make their move, there’s only one real question: Who you gonna call?

Paul Gonzales is a reporter at The News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270, or by email at pgonzales@mysoutex.com.

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