After months watching films at home or streaming on mobile devices, movie lovers can return to the theaters. Starting Friday, local movie theaters will open their doors at reduced capacity with safety practices in place.
Now that Kern County is in the red tier, theaters can reopen with a limited capacity to 25 percent or 100 people per auditorium, whichever is less.
Maya Cinemas, which reopens its Bakersfield and Delano locations on Friday, has already received good customer feedback for its theaters that reopened in Las Vegas, Fresno and Pittsburg in the Bay Area.
Building off the plan that was in place this summer for reopening, Maya will rely on its Clean Team for sanitization, according to Doug Hawkins, vice president of food and beverage/purchasing.
"Dedicated Clean Team staff will clean and sanitize auditoriums between shows, bathrooms and all commonly touched surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized on a frequent basis," he wrote in an email.
Touchless transactions are encouraged with tickets available through the Maya app and mayacinemas.com. Cash will still be accepted at the box office and concessions, with team members changing gloves after each cash transaction.
Guests should also prepare for some changes to concessions, Hawkins said.
"There will be no self-serve, all condiments will be available from the concession attendants and drinks will be served by a staff member. There will be no refills available at this time and concession prices have been adjusted for this."
Those looking for Halloween movies can check out this weekend's offerings, which include "Hocus Pocus," "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "The Lost Boys."
New big-screen releases include "Tenet," "The War with Grandpa" and "Love and Monsters." For a full list, visit Maya's website.
The theater will also offer private theater rentals for up to 20 guests.
Studio Movie Grill Bakersfield will also offer private auditorium rentals after it opens Sunday.
Lynne McQuaker, senior director of PR and outreach for the chain, said that rentals have been a "wildly popular" option at other locations.
Before the theater reopens, it will host a Welcome Back Curbside Drive Thru Event on Saturday. From 4 to 6 p.m. (or while supplies last), guests can come by the theater to receive a free large family popcorn and four tickets good for when the theater reopens.
SMG will also open with many new releases including "Tenet" and "Unhinged" as well as the Netflix remake of the mystery classic "Rebecca," starring Armie Hammer and Lily James. The full schedule and the chain's CinemaSafe practices are posted at studiomoviegrill.com.
Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza with IMAX will reopen Friday with new films as well as titles such as "The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut" and the Disney animated film "Coco." The full movie schedule as well as its safety measures are posted at readingcinemasus.com/valleyplaza.
AMC's Bakersfield 6 theater, which also reopens Friday, will offer a lineup of "Tenet," "The War With Grandpa," the Liam Neeson action film "Honest Thief" and Marvel thriller "The New Mutants." Tickets as well as the AMC Safety & Clean policies and procedures are posted at amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/bakersfield.
Edwards Bakersfield Stadium 14, part of the Regal chain owned by Cineworld, which shuttered its U.S. and U.K. theaters earlier this month, remains closed.
The Fox Theater in Taft is set to open Oct. 23 with the Robert DeNiro comedy "The War With Grandpa" and Pixar classic "Monsters, Inc."