From left, friends Emma Montoya, Sofie Chadwick, Megan Martinez and Liz Hatch watch a movie in March at Violet Crown Cinema. The theater is now operating at 100 percent capacity.

For some, movies are a form of escapism, a way to distract yourself from reality and indulge in a plausible fantasy. Movies are an excuse to go out with friends in the evenings.

When the pandemic forced public venues such as cinemas to close, the options for Sante Fe cinephiles were limited. A drive-in cinema opened last summer, yet most films that were shown at the drive-in were older blockbusters, as many new releases were either postponed or relegated to online streaming services.

Streaming services such as HBO, Disney+ or Netflix each cost a monthly subscription, which might not be ideal for the casual viewer, and many teens were concerned movies would be exclusively released online, eliminating the social aspect of movie viewing as well as the convenience of purchasing a one-time ticket over a monthly subscription.

That was a concern of 18-year-old Gabriel Wagner of Santa Fe. Wagner, a film enthusiast, works at the Violet Crown Cinema as a host.

“It was a bit disappointing to have big blockbusters released at home. It was fine to watch documentaries on the home TV, but it isn’t the same to see something big,” Wagner said.

With Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14 closed, the Violet Crown is one of the limited options in town for one to go see a mainstream movie.

“There have been a lot more people coming in,” Wagner said, adding that as more people realize that going to the theater is an option this summer, the volume of moviegoers will increase. (Violet Crown has been operating at 100 percent capacity since July 1.)

He cautions that people try to be proactive with purchasing tickets and to plan on the influx — though Violet Crown employees are doing their best to sterilize seats and keep things clean.

“You see masks, but other than that, it is completely normal,” he said.

Ben Timm will attend the University of Utah in the fall. Contact him at monkebuziness@gmail.com.

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