"It's kind of like our home away from home." Minnesota movie theaters welcome a weekend audience after closings because of the pandemic

Richard Reeve
Updated: January 15, 2021 10:23 PM
Created: January 15, 2021 09:15 PM

Maybe it's the popcorn. 

Or the posters showing 'coming attractions.'

Or perhaps, it's the sound of a movie--- echoing down a theater hallway--- that's got Minnesota moviegoers excited. 

"It's kind of our home away from home, for us," smiles Heather Elzea. 

"It's fun, because we haven't been out in a long time," adds her 12-year old daughter Paige. "So we can hang out and watch movies."

But if you're a member of the Elzea family, what you likely missed most is the main attraction: this window into wonder.

"The giant screen, the volume noisy loud, the kids are more excited," Heather declares. "Get to get out of the house."

They were at their first movie--- at an Emagine Theater in Eagan--- for the first time, in a very long time. 

The theater itself, closed twice in 2020, because of the pandemic.   

"It feels great, we're super-excited to be open," exclaims senior manager Taylor Prax. "We know there's not going to be massive crowds anytime soon. A lot of people are still worried about going out, and they don't know things are as safe as they are." 

Movie theaters in Minnesota were allowed to officially reopen on Monday, with a 25% capacity. 

The Emagine Theater chain--- with nine theaters in Minnesota, used this week to rehire employees, restock concessions, and inspect COVID precautions. 

"When you purchase your seats, the two seats on either side of you will be empty, so that there's ample space between parties," Prax says. 

A big factor in the opening delay are the hefty film rental fees from the production studios.

They cost the theaters hundreds, even thousands of dollars, and theaters need a weekend crowd to make a profit. 

"To have opened on Monday, when we were allowed, would be just kind of foolish, because Monday through Thursday are very slow days," Prax notes. "Very minimal folks here." 

Moviegoers will see a different look--- safe distancing measures, and some amenities off-limits. 

But inside, the big screen will be alight again. 

Moviegoers will see a different look.

Safe-distancing measures, and some amenities off limits.

"It's comfortable. We can just be together," Paige grins. "We don't have all the light from the windows in our house and can watch on a big screen, and we're all near each other."

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