Here's what it's like going to the movies during the COVID-19 pandemic

Going to the movies during a pandemic
Going to the movies during a pandemic 04:06

Some U.S. movie theaters are making big changes in order to stay open and keep moviegoers safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, even as delays in the release of big movies — like James Bond film "No Time To Die" — have forced hundreds of others to temporarily close again.

"We are following the CDC guidelines and recommendations," said Meghan Simpler, chief cleaning and safety monitor at a Cinemark theater outside of Dallas that is determined to keep locals safe and entertained. "No refills — but awesome pricing."

True to Simpler's word, a sign at the theater read: "To limit contact points, free refills not available."

Other changes within the theater include Plexiglas dividers throughout the building, as well as bright signs reminding people to wear masks and keep a safe distance from others.

Simpler personally helps keep the hallways cleaned and filled with hand sanitizer, and monitors crews that disinfect every seat after each showing. 

The changes were a draw for at least one Dallas-area family — a mother called it "a little piece of normal and a little piece of something special for them to get to do after they worked so hard in school this week," referring to her children.

Cinemark has reopened more than 200 movie theaters across the country this summer, and in addition to cleaning theaters the chain began promoting watch parties and rolled back concession stand prices to entice moviegoers. 

"It's been very difficult financially," Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said. "The popcorn is less expensive, the soda drinks are less expensive. And we're trying to just encourage people to come back and to experience how good it really is."

A handful of movies have been released during the pandemic, like Christopher Nolan's "Tenet."  

The film fizzled at the U.S. box office amid an industry-wide loss of billions of dollars so far this year. (However, "Tenet" has grossed more than $300 million globally). 

"It's been a big issue for the studios which are also dealing with the problem of how do we start producing films again," LA Times film business reporter Ryan Faughnder told CBS News' Mireya Villarreal. "This is going to be a pretty big financial hit all the way around the industry."

The financial blow can be felt in all aspects of the film industry — movie theater giant Regal Cinemas announced it would be closing more than 500 U.S. theaters indefinitely, affecting some 40,000 workers.

Another glimmer of hope for the industry's future is the growing popularity of drive-in movie theaters — however, as the fall and winter months approach, traditional movie theaters hope box office sales will make a comeback.