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COVID-19 Reopening: Cinemark Opens Several Bay Area Movie Theaters, Will Audiences Show Up?

DALY CITY (KPIX 5) – Cinemark, one of the Bay Area's largest movie theater chains, reopened several theaters for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, showing blockbusters as well as classics.

At Century Theaters in Daly City, there are actual movie show times on the marquee for the first time in six months.

"I was driving by and I saw people at the ticket booth and I made U-turn and I came by just to check it out," said moviegoer Cheryl Dizon.

The Cinemark chain has re-opened a handful of Bay Area theaters with mandated masking, staggered start times to avoid crowds in the lobby, more cleanings and capacity reduced to 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

"As long as the chairs, you know people aren't sitting like next to me and each other and we are distancing, I feel pretty safe with that," Dizon told KPIX5.

The Cinemark theaters that have reopened in the Bay Area as of Friday include:
Daly City – Century 20 Daly City and XD and IMAX
Napa – Century Napa Valley and XD
Novato – Century Rowland Plaza
Redwood City – Redwood Downtown 20 and XD
San Bruno – Century at Tanforan and SC
San Mateo – Century 12 San Mateo
San Rafael – Century Northgate
San Rafael – Century Regency
Vallejo – Century 14

Other Bay Area locations remain closed, including theaters in several East Bay cities, the South Bay and San Francisco.

Even with the silver screen re-opened and a heat wave about to bear down on the Bay Area, one person who won't be buying a ticket is San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle.

"I just don't want my tombstone to read, 'Couldn't wait to see Tenet,'" he told KPIX 5 via an interview on Zoom.

LaSalle said in a post-COVID world, he does see at least some films heading straight to streaming, like Disney did with Mulan on Disney Plus earlier this month.

"The real question is can you make money on it?" he said.

LaSalle believes the pandemic won't end the movie theater business.

"I don't think this is the slow death knell of the movie theater at all," he said. "I think as soon as it's safe and it will be safe eventually people will go to the movies, they will go to plays - it will just be an explosion, but it has to be safe."

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