After more than a year of delayed releases and sometimes-morbid predictions for what the future might look like, the movie theater as we know and love it (overpriced popcorn and all) seems to be bouncing back from the pandemic. Now, in an attempt to entice even more people back into cinemas, three of the country’s biggest theater chains—AMC, Regal, and Cinemark—have officially lifted their mask mandates for fully vaccinated moviegoers.
“In line with CDC guidelines, masks will be optional for inoculated patrons and will be ‘strongly encouraged’ for all others. For non-vaccinated customers, masks can be removed when eating and drinking inside the auditorium. All employees at AMC, Regal, and Cinemark locations will still be required to sport a face mask.”
This is, of course, great news for Hollywood. Memorial Day weekend, which generally kicks off the summer blockbuster season, saw some record-breaking attendance numbers as John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II crept into theaters. Even Cruella, which arrived in theaters at the same time it was made available for purchase at home, scared up an impressive $28 million.
While each theater—even those within the same chain—could see slight differences in cinema sanitation procedures and seat blocking (largely based on local mandates), the general rule seems to be that everyone is welcome back… just as long as you promise to wear a mask if you’ve yet to be vaccinated. Which is where the key problem with this plan could lie. As none of these theaters have required proof of vaccination, all patrons will just have to trust that movie lovers with non-jabbed arms will abide by the honor system. And if that doesn’t work, maybe free screenings of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion for all non-vaxxed people will.