Movie theater chains will be slowly reopening in the next few weeks, observing public health guidelines as the pandemic lingers. Regal Cinemas (Azalea Square, Palmetto Grande, Cinebarre) and Cinemark (Movies 8 in Summerville) are on track to open later in the month. Southeast Cinemas (Citadel Mall, Northwoods) reopened on Aug. 13.
On a local note, Terrace Theater made the trek to Columbia earlier this month to present their case for reopening to Gov. Henry McMaster. Since the pandemic hit, Terrace has gotten by with private screenings, virtual cinema and converting part of the parking lot into a drive-in.
Not long after making their reopening announcement on Instagram, owner and operator Paul Brown spoke with us about the experience.
City Paper: Personally and professionally, how have the past few months been for you and for the staff?
Paul Brown: They have been oddly uplifting and empowering. After the shock and sadness (and gin), we picked ourselves up and decided to do something productive. We never wanted to be a GoFundMe-type business.
CP: How did the trip to Columbia come about?
PB: [McMaster’s] chief of staff saw our CNBC piece I sent to them. With a lot of prodding from our national theater association and us, they agreed to meet.
CP: From the trip up to Columbia to meeting the governor, what was the whole experience like?
PB: The governor was very approachable. This is not a political issue, it’s about a small business being able to control its narrative and responsibly be allowed to open safely. He was interested in the movie business and we offered a personal side. He knew of the theater and its impact on community.
CP: What are the plans going forward?
PB: Well, we will continue the drive-in. We are using this time to perfect our system [inside the theater]. This is a time for small businesses to rise. We can do better than the national chains because our staff is involved daily.
CP: Over the course of the pandemic, you’ve used the marquee to add some levity and put a COVID spin on classic movie titles. My favorite was The Social Distancing Network. What was yours?
PB: Mr. Smith Goes to Wash His Hands!
The Terrace reopens its indoor seating on Aug. 21 with two new releases (Unhinged and Made In Italy), followed by three new movies the following the week. New safety precautions include touchless bathroom fixtures, frequent cleaning with hospital grade disinfectants and mandated masks for both guests and employees.
Learn more and buy tickets ahead of time online at terracetheater.com.