Area residents itching for a night out at the movies will get the chance starting Thursday, when Franklin Drive-In reopens for business – with some changes – after being closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Drive-in owner Gary Price said the facility normally parks 500 vehicles but will operate at about 40 percent capacity to help meet social distancing requirements. It will also limit the number of people who are in the concession stand area and restrooms at one time.
The theater will show the films “Trolls: World Tour” and “The Invisible Man,” with each requiring separate admission.
“We are normally double features all the time, but we’ve seen what some other theaters in different states have done,” Price said. “You’ve seen at intermission where the concession lines are crazy, the restroom lines are crazy. What these other theaters are doing to accommodate is show one movie, so there is not a major rush to the concessions and restrooms at intermission.
Price said the separate admissions also will allow staff time to clean and prepare between films. “It gives us about 30 to 40 minutes before the next movie starts and about 20 to 30 minutes before we let the next car in,” he said. “That way we clean all our counters, clean all our restrooms and be ready to go again.”
Price said Franklin Drive-In has hosted some church services during the pandemic, giving staff insight on how to operate under mandated social distancing guidelines.
“For several weeks we couldn’t even open the restrooms,” Price said. “But I submitted a plan moving forward and it has been accepted. To be honest, the guidelines are not specific. It’s kind of all on a case-by-case basis.”
Franklin Drive-In will be the first movie theater in the area to reopen since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Regal Cinemas owns the two theaters in Bowling Green and Marquee Cinemas owns Highland Cinema in Glasgow, and both chains have messages on their websites indicating that all theaters are closed until further notice. Regal Cinema’s corporate office did not return a phone call from the Daily News.
Although Gov. Andy Beshear’s guidelines to reopen Kentucky allow indoor theaters to reopen June 1, a lack of new releases will likely keep them closed until July. Star Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” is slated to be released July 1, with director Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” scheduled for July 17 and Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” scheduled for July 24.
Price said the drive-in won’t be able to show first-run movies until July, barring a last-minute change in release schedules, but will probably schedule classic films to fill the void.
“There are some fairly good drive-in draws that are out there, like ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Ghostbusters,’ ” Price said. “You name it, you can do it. It will kind of allow us to think outside the box, because we are always first-run movie, first-run movie, first-run movie. ... Some places are doing things like two scary movies on Friday night, two different scary movies on Saturday night, and two more scary movies on Sunday. We will be able to look at things like that and hopefully it will be something everybody is excited about coming to see.”