In the latest indication of the entertainment industry’s gradual thaw from the pandemic’s freeze, Regal plans to reopen five movie theaters in the San Antonio area on Friday.

The five multiscreen theaters will reopen with new coronavirus pandemic-related safety measures, including a mask requirement for all parts of the theaters and at all times, except when eating or drinking while seated in the auditorium.

Moviegoers who show up without a mask will be given one, according to the company’s outline of its guidelines.  “Where socially unacceptable behavior is observed, including the non-wearing of a mask, this will be addressed with the patron,” Regal’s policy states.

Among the other pandemic-related changes: Diners and restaurants in the theaters will remain closed, concessions can now be purchased from an app, and two empty seats will be maintained between groups.

The move comes seven months after Regal’s parent company Cineworld Group closed its more than 500 U.S. locations for the second time. First closed at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the company had started to reopen some of those locations in late August 2020, before closing them again in October. The company said at the time that the closures reflected “an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape” during the pandemic.

“We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theaters and restore our essential role within the communities we serve,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger in a prepared statement as part of a March press release. He added that the “health and safety” of staff and customers would be the company’s “top priority.”

Headlining movies at the theaters Friday include Wrath of Man, Mortal Kombat, and Godzilla vs. Kong.

Regal is one of the last movie theater chains to reopen in San Antonio, though certainly not the last. Flix Brewhouse San Antonio, a combination brewery and dine-in movie theater, has said it will reopen in June.

San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment became one of the first in the country to welcome back moviegoers after it reopened some locations in May last year.

Since then, Santikos has reopened all but one of its nine locations in the San Antonio area, though some, like the Santikos Bijou location, are open only on weekends. The last remaining closed location is the Silverado 16 location near Bandera Road and Loop 1604, where Santikos is offering signing bonuses up to $1,000 to grow its staff before reopening.

AMC Theaters began to reopen in August last year.

But not all have made it through the pandemic.

Regal Fiesta on Vance Jackson Road appears to have closed permanently. The company has made no announcement about reopening that location.

Alamo Drafthouse said it was permanently closing its New Braunfels location when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. The SA Current confirmed last week that it was also closing down Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes.

Alamo Drafthouse Park North is open and the Stone Oak location is expected to reopen in June.

A statement on the Alamo Drafthouse’s website reads, “It’s a lot of (expensive) work to wake one of these babies up – considerably more than a little bit of dusting – so that’s why we’ve been slow to reopen locations in 2021.”

The Alamo Drafthouse in Stone Oak Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

For Regal, locations reopening are:

  • Regal Alamo Quarry (255 E. Basse, San Antonio, TX)
  • Regal Cielo Vista & RPX (2828 Cinema Ridge, San Antonio, TX)
  • Regal Huebner Oaks & RPX (11075 W Interstate 10 Ste 1H, San Antonio, TX)
  • Regal Northwoods (17640 Henderson Pass, San Antonio, TX)
  • Regal Live Oak & RPX (7901 Pat Booker Road, Live Oak, TX)          

Waylon Cunningham covered business and technology for the San Antonio Report.