Op-Ed

Movie Theater Getaway

After three long months, I’m finally back at the movies.

With some movie theaters cautiously reopening, and after an incredibly frustrating work day, I decided to escape to the cinema this evening. It definitely wasn’t the bustling, thriving celebratory grand reopening I was hoping for, but… Well, here’s my review of the experience:

The theater lobby was a combination of sparse but upbeat employees surrounded by expired standees, scaled-down concession stands, and abundant cleaning smells. It felt as if someone had broken into an abandoned building and discovered how to turn on a few working breakers. I began to feel a little disheartened. COVID-19 has already changed everything about day-to-day life, but now it was threatening to permanently infringe on one of the few places I can go to escape.

I bought some popcorn, was rationed some napkins, a straw and a lid, and headed down the barren hallway into the auditorium.

It was mostly empty—just a few teenagers and me. Not quite the communal experience you typically want at a theater.

Then the lights dimmed and the trailers (without dates) played. I love trailers but these were for movies that had already missed their original releases, again a reminder of the reality I wanted to forget about for awhile. After the trailers, there was a lengthy clip of the President of Megaplex Theatres awkwardly welcoming audiences back and, again, reminding us of the detailed protocols his company is following to protect us. How could I forget?

Blake Andersen, President of Megaplex Theatres, welcomes back movie theater patrons.

Finally, after nearly three months of drought, the movie started. And that was it—the shiny floating distributor logos, the larger-than-life images, the seat-shaking surround sounds—I was transported.

The movie wasn’t new, I’ve seen it at least a dozen times. But it worked. No matter how hard the theater kept trying to remind me of the new reality, the cinematic experience worked.

For a few hours I didn’t have to think about the new normal. Covid, protests, politics, social media, work stress, all took a back seat while my mind was creatively recharged and emotionally reinvigorated.

Thank goodness for movies.

After the credits rolled, the lights came up, and I put on my face mask and headed back into wherever we are now, feeling a little more prepared to face this new normal.


Garrett Batty is a film director, producer and writer. Batty’s filmography includes films such as The Saratov Approach (2013), Freetown (2015), and Out of Liberty (2019).

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