Mexico’s second-largest chain of movie theaters is offering film buffs the opportunity to rent out an entire theater in order to entice customers back to the silver screen.
Groups of five to 10 people can rent out one of Cinemex’s platinum theaters — featuring wide, reclining seats and the option to order refreshments directly from your chair — for rates that start at 700 pesos for five people during the week and top out at 1,400 pesos for 10 people Friday through Sunday.
The chain is hoping that this new option, called “Mi Sala,” will help convince people that going to the movies can actually be a safe experience, a daunting process due to the simple logistics of spending an extended period of time in an enclosed space with strangers.
Some theaters were allowed to reopen on August 12 but attendance the first weekend was dismal. The National Chamber of the Cinematographic Industry (Canacine) reported only 107,000 tickets were sold, just 3% of what were sold in the same period last year.
“It is an abysmal difference,” said Tábata Vilar Villa, general manager of Canacine, at a press conference last month.
Cinemex has implemented coronavirus protocols to keep staff and theater-goers safe from Covid-19.
Employees must wear face masks and shields at all times, their temperatures are checked daily, handwashing is encouraged and uniforms are left at the theater after each shift to be thoroughly washed and sanitized.
Inside the theater, in hallways, restrooms and at the refreshment counter a distance between people of at least 1.5 meters must be respected, and there are signs to help people maintain it.
Kitchens, ticket counters and theater seats are disinfected throughout the day. Theater doors are kept open during functions to help air circulate and after a film ends audiences are instructed on how to leave the theater in an orderly fashion and avoid crowding.
Cinepolis, Mexico’s largest chain, is following similar health protocols as the movie industry struggles to rebound.
“We need a reactivation. We need the filmmakers to have the opportunity to present their films again,” Vilar said. “It must be clear that the virus is not temporary. We have to understand that the virus is here to stay, but we cannot be confined for life. It is necessary to reactivate this economy.”