The smell of buttered popcorn wafted through the air as Manitobans had their vaccine QR codes scanned and walked into the Landmark Cinema 8 Grant Park theatre for the first time since November.
“Nothing beats actually the theatre experience,” one movie goer told Global News on Saturday.
Limited to 50 per cent capacity and only allowing fully vaccinated Manitobans, Landmark Cinemas CEO Bill Walker said it was a choice by the province that threw a wrinkle in their plans.
“This is the first province where we’ve had to mandate vaccination to come into a movie theatre,” Walker said. “And on a relative spectrum of activities, we think going to the movies is pretty darn safe.”
Spectators must wear a mask while scanning in and buying concessions but can remove the covering once seated.
Walker said Landmark Cinemas has lost millions of dollars through the pandemic, but 50 per cent capacity will help.
When theatres reopened in July last year, there was a 30 per cent limit and new movies didn’t make their way onto the big screens. Walker said this is the first time since the pandemic began they have new movies to play.
They include the likes of Space Jam: A New Legacy, F9: The Fast Saga and Cruella.
Hand sanitizing stations, floor markers and Plexiglas barriers are sticking around for now. As for how long theatres will have a capacity limit, Walker hopes it’s only a matter of weeks.
“It really is just a phase of recovery, we don’t believe this will be permanent,” the CEO said.
Walker hopes to see a full house in four to six weeks. The current public health orders are in place until Aug. 7 unless they are terminated earlier, according to the official document.