Entertainment

Boston’s movie theaters are open. Will you be in attendance?

We want to know if you're missing the in-person movie experience.

The screen at Coolidge Corner Theatre reads "coming soon" before showing trailers at the start of the 7:30 showing of Frances Ha. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

We’ve been through a year of endless streaming and binge watching, but what’s been missing is the feeling of experiencing a new movie on the big screen with a tub of movie theater popcorn in hand. Now, with nearly all COVID-19 restrictions lifting on May 29, many of us are planning our return to the movies. 

The demand for big screen movies is so high that when Coolidge Corner Theatre recently announced that it would be reopening for in-person viewings for the first time in over a year, they had to shut down their ticketing page — twice.

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“There’s nothing like seeing a movie in the theater on the big screen,” said Beth Gilligan, the director of development and marketing at the Coolidge. “Our ticket system sort of buckled under the weight of intense audience demand, which in the scheme of things, is not the worst problem to have.”

As with many industries, 2020 wasn’t a good year for movies. Most studios either delayed the release of slated films or sent them straight to streaming services. The pandemic has had a substantial impact of film productions, causing an estimated $5 billion revenue loss. Last year, Warner Bros. made the decision to simultaneously release all 2021 films in theaters and through the streaming service HBO Max, including blockbusters like “Matrix 4” and “Dune” — a move that could keep theaters struggling even as they reopen. This year’s Oscars was the least watched in the award show’s history.

In Greater Boston, at least three theaters have closed for good including Showcase in Revere, ArcLight at Hub on Causeway, and Showplace Icon in the Seaport. Another marquee, the Somerville Theater, remains closed with virtual streaming options.

The Coolidge also kept its devoted fans going throughout the pandemic with virtual film screenings until they reopened on May 13. The theater sold out of all screenings in its reopening weekend and have since had to add encore showings to meet the demand. 

Starting in June, the theater will show new releases like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” and Questlove’s debut music film, “Summer of Soul” in addition to the classic films already showing. 

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As excited as the team at Coolidge is to be back, Gilligan said safety remains their top priority. They’ve updated the theater’s ventilation system and will maintain socially distanced seating for now.

“It seems like we got the timing right. There were a few times we considered reopening, but we felt it was important to give our staff the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before we did, and also more of our audience,” she said. “If we had reopened sooner I don’t know what the reaction would have been. I think waiting until now to reopen…people are very excited and feel ready.”

We want to know if you’ll be one of the people packing into the theater in the coming weeks? Do you have a favorite theater you’ve been eagerly waiting to buy tickets from? Is there anything about the movie-going experience that you’ve missed?

Let us know your thoughts in the Boston.com survey below or e-mail [email protected], and we’ll feature your responses in a future article.

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