A Polk County staple is coming back online this weekend after being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s coming back with a bite.
West Cinema will crank up the projectors once again this weekend by showing the 1975 classic “Jaws” along with the recently-released animated film “Trolls World Tour” now that many businesses have reopened and certain health guidelines have been relaxed by state leaders.
Owner Michael Tinney said he and his staff have been working over the last three months on ways to make sure they can ensure the safety of both their patrons and the employees with a focus on cleanliness and social distancing.
“We’ve been working on several pieces at one time,” Tinney said.
Each feature will be shown just once at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night with Tinney asking that the public arrive early to purchase tickets and allow social distancing to be observed with seating inside each auditorium.
The historic picturehouse on West Avenue just off of South Main Street in downtown Cedartown has been closed since Gov. Brian Kemp signed a shelter-in-place order for all of Georgia in March. Recent executive orders allowing more customers to be allowed inside restaurants and live entertainment venues have paved the way for some movie theaters to reopen.
Tinney had originally chosen to reopen this weekend to feature a new release — the Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged” — but Solstice Studios pushed back the release to July 10, an action taken by many distributors in the last four months to be able to have their films open when people would be able to attend public screenings.
The move left Tinney with an opening in the schedule, so he decided to show “Jaws,” which is considered the precursor to the summer blockbuster.
“I would like to see it on the big screen as well. I saw it as a kid,” Tinney said. “They’re classics. And so we felt good going with something like that. We may try to do some more scheduling with both classic movies and new movies in the future.”
Tinney said they are also looking at an online ticketing software where patrons can choose their seat at the time of purchasing tickets. This will have a social distancing factor built in to help space people out in the theaters.
“When you go through something like this it makes you open your eyes and really look at all the options,” Tinney said.
He said they will look at how this weekend goes and then see if they need to make any adjustments for future weekends. One obstacle is the ability to clean and sanitize each auditorium efficiently between showings if they return to back-to-back showings a night.
“We just encourage everybody to support us and be safe,” Tinney said.