Moses Lake movie theater gets ready for reopening

by CASEY MCCARTHY
Staff Writer | October 16, 2020 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Fairchild Cinema in Moses Lake continues to work on getting ready to reopen its doors after being closed to the public for months during the pandemic.

Mamie Gale, general manager at Fairchild Cinemas, said they are working on finishing up some interior work currently, including replacing some cabinets. During the shutdown, she said, they were able to revamp the bathrooms and get some painting done in the hallways and lobby as well.

“We just need to do some general cleaning of everything too since our doors have been shuttered for seven months,” Gale said. “There’s probably a little bit of dust buildup to take care of. But other than that, it won’t take too long.”

Gale said they are expecting some new equipment they recently ordered to be in by the end of the month, with hopes of reopening their doors in the first week of November. A set date hasn’t been decided yet, but updates can be found on the theater’s social media page.

With only 25 percent capacity available during Phase 2, she said, they unfortunately won’t be able to bring back the entire theater staff initially. Gale said the decision on people coming back will be left up to the local theater manager. She said she hopes that as more patrons are allowed back the staff can return to normal numbers as well.

Capacity will be limited for shows through the ticket computer system, limiting availability by 25 percent of seating available. Gale said she isn’t worried about marking off seats to start off, and added that people do a pretty good job of distancing by themselves when coming to the movies.

“We will suggest they leave three seats between them and their party,” Gale said. ‘If it looks like it’s going to be an issue, we will go towards marking off the seats. But we hope to not have to worry about that at the beginning.”

Virtually all of the snacks and concession foods expired during the theater’s shutdown. Getting that stocked back up is one of the factors determining when the movie theater can reopen, she said.

Gale said they’ve tossed around the idea of hosting free movies, similar to what they’ve done during the summer in the past. If they decide to bring back some older movies, she said, they’ve considered charging discounted prices for those shows. She said no decision has been made yet regarding what movies will be shown when they reopen.

Some other theaters around the country have not had much success bringing back older films to the theater, forcing them to shut their doors again to wait for new content.

“In a way, I’m kind of glad someone has already had to go through this so we can see what works for them and what doesn’t,” Gale said.

With the holiday season around the corner, she said, there are still a lot of good movies coming this year. Early on after the shutdown, she said they got a lot of calls from customers asking when they’d reopen, with calls and messages tapering off a bit after time.

After Gov. Inslee announced theaters could reopen during Phase 2 last week, she said, the phone has not stopped ringing with people reaching out to see when the movies would return.

Gale said it’s great to see that kind of support, especially as a small business in a small town. She said it will be nice to see patrons coming back through the doors again.

“We really appreciate their support and to be able to open the doors and see familiar faces,” Gale said. “Being a smaller community, we see the same people week in and week out, and it will be really nice to see those familiar faces coming back through the doors.”

Casey McCarthy can be reached via email at cmccarthy@columbiabasinherald.com.