After a long intermission, ShowPlace ICON Theatre in Mountain View is set to reopen its doors Friday.
The movie theater closed March 16, 2020, when Santa Clara County issued shelter-in-place orders due to the pandemic.
For now, ShowPlace ICON will only sell tickets in advance for “Mortal Kombat” and “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” as well as for the telecast of UFC 261, the mixed martial arts event set for Saturday. Jim Nowicki, marketing director for Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres LLC, the parent company of ShowPlace ICON Theatre, said tickets for more titles will go on sale as early as Tuesday.
The ShowPlace ICON is offering a Welcome Back promotion, with tickets as low as $7. All food and drinks, excluding alcohol, are 20% off. Guests also can rent an entire auditorium for up to 20 people; prices start at $99.
Kerasotes is a partner of CinemaSafe, a coalition of more than 400 cinema companies around the globe pledging to implement higher health and safety standards developed by epidemiologists. According to the CinemaSafe website, this means not only will ICON reopen using local, state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, but also extra protocols to ensure health and safety.
Nowicki said safety measures include cleaning high-contact surfaces such as kiosks, countertops, railings and door handles every 30 minutes, as well as deep cleaning of all auditoriums and high-traffic areas each night. To maintain proper social distancing, patrons will be required to exit auditoriums by row. To accommodate the extra time spent clearing and cleaning the theaters, showtimes have been staggered.
“We don’t want large groups congregating in our lobby, hallways or bathroom,” said Nowicki, who added that Kerasotes has rehired employees laid off because of the pandemic.
On its website, ICON recommends patrons use its mobile app or lobby kiosks for a contactless experience. Even before the pandemic, people could order tickets, drinks and food through the website and app. Cash will only be accepted to purchase gift cards (exact change only).
"According to Nowicki, for now only simplified concession options are being offered – many specialty items, self-service and communal food and condiments are not available.
"We are launching with popcorn, candy, soda and some of the more popular staples,” he said, “As local, state and CDC mandates change, more items will return.”
The theater’s capacity is limited to 50% or 200 people, whichever is less.
“One thing I want to point out is important in the safety procedures is that we take advantage of technology,” Nowicki said. “When you reserve your tickets, whether it be on the website, mobile app or kiosk, the seats on each side of you will be automatically closed to give you that social distance from those around you. Also, if you try to buy tickets that are too close to others, the system won’t let you.”
The theater experience
When movie theaters closed, movies shifted to releases online, and movie watchers followed, causing a huge increase in traffic for streaming services. The shift does not worry Nowicki.
“The one thing that’s been constant in our industry is that we have always been able to adapt and continue to evolve the entertainment experience,” he said, “When people were buying VCRs and DVD players and bigger televisions with 4K resolution, everyone presumed they would be the end of movie-going. But that’s never been the case.”
He added, “Whether it’s putting in heated recliners, 4K laser projection, Dolby ATMOS or wall-to-wall screens, there’s still a difference watching a movie in a movie theater than on TV. I think it really does imprint a memory that is so much stronger than watching on a TV. There’s something about sitting in an auditorium with other like-minded people, laughing, crying and getting scared together, that makes a much stronger experience that can’t be replicated, and people will continue going to the movies to enjoy that.”
ShowPlace ICON is located at 2575 California St., Mountain View. For more information, visit showplaceicon.com.