UPDATED: Silicon Valley and Orange County have been cleared by the state of California for indoor movie theaters reopening, joining San Diego County as key California markets to reopen.
Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services, announced Tuesday that five counties — Amador, Orange, Placer, Santa Clara (home to Silicon Valley) and Santa Cruz — had been moved from the state’s “purple tier” to a “red tier,” which takes place when COVID-19 rates drop. That designation allows movie theaters to begin operations with capacity limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less.
Regal Cinemas spokesman Richard Grover told Variety the chain plans to open 17 locations in Orange, Placer, Santa Cruz and Amador counties as early as 5 p.m. Tuesday.
AMC is reopening to three locations — the AMC Anaheim GardenWalk 6, AMC Orange 30, and AMC Tustin 14 — on Friday and the AMC Dine-In Fullerton 20. It will reopen the AMC Woodbridge 5 in Irvine on Sept. 18. AMC said it had sold 1 million tickets nationwide in the three weeks since it began reopening locations.
Two Los Angeles area drive-ins — the Mission Tiki in Monclair and the Paramount in Paramount — have scheduled showings of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” for Friday night in the first screenings of the thriller in the L.A. region.
The state’s first reopenings of indoor movie theaters took place last week as AMC reopened seven of its nine sites in San Diego County and Regal reopened nine of its San Diego multiplexes along with three in Northern California — two in El Dorado County and in Sonora, the county seat of Tuolumne County.
Nearly all of the nation’s movie theaters closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and California is keeping most of its movie theaters closed for now. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Aug. 28 that 87% of the state’s population, or 38 of the 58 counties (including Los Angeles and Orange), were in the “purple” tier or “widespread” tier. The purple designation means that more than 8% of tests are coming back positive and there are more than seven new cases daily per 100,000 residents.
San Diego, however, was one of nine counties in “red tier” or “substantial” counties with 4% to 7% rates of positive tests and four to seven news cases daily. That tier now has 14 counties in it, with changes announced every Tuesday.
Counties must stay in each tier for at least three weeks before they can move to a less restrictive tier in California. They will only be eligible to move to a less restrictive tier if their numbers show improvement for at least two weeks.
Los Angeles County, one of the nation’s heaviest moviegoing regions, remains closed along with New York City, due to the coronavirus. During the past weekend, Warner Bros. launched its oft-delayed time-travel thriller “Tenet” at about 2,800 North American locations — a far lower figure than it would have employed in pre-pandemic times — and dominated the domestic box office with $20.2 million during the weekend.
Sony Pictures is planning a nationwide launch of the romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Gallery” on Sept. 11.