Two Texas Circuits to Open Select Movie Theaters This Saturday

Santikos Entertainment Northwest, not one of the locations reopening on Saturday. Image courtesy Santikos Entertainment

Following Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement that his state’s stay-at-home order would expire, allowing theaters to open at reduced capacity as soon as this Friday, Texas chains have begun to chime on in their own reopening timetables. Alamo Drafthouse will “not be opening this weekend,” while EVO Entertainment is opening two of its locations next Monday, May 4th, under Phase 1 of their reopening procedures.

Joining EVO Entertainment is San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment, which in a video statement released last night announced that they will be opening three of their locations—one theater (the Palladium) and two cinema entertainment centers (Casa Blanca and Cibolo) starting this Saturday.

In addition to following the “governor’s standards for how theaters should operate,” says CEO Tim Handren, Santikos will be following standards established by the National Association of Theatre Owners “that have been sent out to all the theaters across America. We believe very strongly in taking care of or employees and our guests. So we are following, we believe, the best guidelines that we can to open safely.”

In addition, “we actually engaged our employees,” asking them about their comfort level in returning to work given the safety and sanitation protocols that would be put in place. “As we went through a series of phone calls over the last 24 to 36 hours, our employees have resoundingly said, ‘We want to come back to work’… So based on our employees’ decision to help us decide to reopen, we are going to reopen this coming Saturday.” There is, as of yet, no information on what they will be playing.

Santikos has laid out safety procedures for its three reopening theaters in detail on its website. Six-foot social distancing guidelines will be in place in all common areas, including lobbies, auditoriums, and bowling centers. All high-contact areas will be cleaned throughly and regularly. In addition, Santikos will be cutting down on the number of areas customers can come into physical contact with by closing their grab and go concessions space, keeping more doors open, encouraging contactless payment methods, and closing the theaters’ arcade games sections.

Santikos has limited their food menu. In addition, popcorn has gone down in price, and no refills will be offered “in order to reduce contact points.” Customers who want more will have to buy a new tub. Refillable mugs, likewise, will not be accepted at their bars. Dine-in service will not be offered. Coca-Coca Freestyle and ICEE machines will be operated only by theater staff.

The use of cash is discouraged; for those patrons who want to pay using cash, there will be a “Cash Only” line they can stand in to exchange their cash for a gift card that can be used throughout the theater.

Per Santikos’ safety guidelines, “All team members must wear the required protective equipment and adhere to all CDC recommended standards of use.” Masks will be used by employees but not required for patrons—though they may be in the future if proper social distancing cannot be maintained.

As in the case of EVO Entertainment, patrons will be asked if they have had symptoms—or been in contact with anyone who has had symptoms—within the last 14 days. There is no mention of temperature taking, which is a precaution that has emerged as a possibility as reopenings approach; EVO will be taking temperatures of patrons and employees, and Oklahoma has recommended that employee temperatures be taken before their shifts.

“We are continuously evaluating local, state, and federal guidelines to assure we remain leaders in providing a safe, clean, and fun atmosphere for all,” says Handren.

Additional details on Santikos’ reopening procedures and safety precautions be found here.