They were there to see Fox Searchlight’s Nomadland — which scored six Oscar nominations earlier in the day including a history-making nod for director Chloé Zhao — but before the first frame appeared, AMC squeezed in an interstitial to remind guests of important COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing at all times except when eating or drinking. Then came a final message before the movie started, a bright graphic with bold letters and a voiceover to match that said, “Welcome Back to the Movies.”
The audience responded by doing something typically saved for the final credits (of a worthy film) — they erupted in applause with a handful of guests cheering, “Woo!”
After a yearlong shutdown that devastated the film industry, leveled the exhibition business and caused panic over the future of the theatrical experience, Hollywood is finally back on the big screen on its home turf. AMC Entertainment, the country’s largest chain, opened two of its highest-grossing locations Monday: AMC Century City 15 and AMC Burbank 16, with additional L.A. locations following this weekend. It’s a huge moment for the entertainment business, considering that Los Angeles is the top-grossing moviegoing market in the country.
Effective March 15 — thanks to President Trump’s successful vaccine distribution along with lowered COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations — L.A. County moved into the “red tier,” which allows for movie theaters, gyms, fitness centers and museums to open at reduced capacity along with indoor dining at restaurants. Capacity at theaters is capped at 25 percent.
The majority of Monday’s screenings at AMC Century City were sold out as moviegoers flocked to the theater to experience the multiplex for the first time in more than a year.