Violet Crown Cinema is the first Santa Fe movie house to announce a reopening date, determined just minutes after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham elevated Santa Fe County to the green level of COVID-19 restrictions.
Violet Crown plans to reopen March 19, general manager Peter Grendle said Wednesday.
“We said we would reopen one week after we went green,” he added.
Regal Cinemas remain closed nationwide, including at Santa Fe Place and San Isidro Plaza. The Center for Contemporary Arts’ Cinematheque, The Screen and Jean Cocteau Cinema have made no reopening statements and could not be reached for comment.
It won’t be the same moviegoing experience at Violet Crown as before the pandemic.
Families or groups of friends can rent out theaters for $50 to $100 — depending on the movie, day, time, etc. — for what Violet Crown is calling RSVP Cinema. The size of the group can be anything from one to about 13, or 25 percent capacity of an individual theater.
“We really wanted the safest way to see a movie,” Grendle said.
Only one group will be allowed to enter Violet Crown every half-hour at the top and bottom of every hour from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“You will be the only group in the lobby,” he said, adding moviegoers can select from about seven current or 2020 releases, or they can choose from Violet Crown’s new “JukeBox Cinema,” which has more than 100 vintage movies and continues to add titles.
Patrons may also bring their own movies from home, including DVDs and VHS tapes.
“I can do Betamax, but you have to bring your own player,” Grendle said, adding the website to book a theater was launched Wednesday.
The changes the pandemic has brought also will be seen in Violet Crown’s food offerings. Moviegoers will be able to order food by text and can place orders as they arrive or during the film.
During the one-year closure, Violet Crown brought in professional-grade electrostatic sanitizer sprayers to disinfect theaters between screenings, equipped all heating and air conditioning outlets with ionization air-purifying capabilities, and reprogrammed the HVAC systems to increase fresh air intake, Grendle said.
Patrons will be required to wear masks in public areas, but mask-wearing inside the auditorium is the choice of the group, he said.
The RSVP Cinema will stay in place for the indefinite future. General admission could return in the “next phase,” which has not been defined.
“The next phase might be what comes after turquoise,” Grendle said. “We haven’t talked about it.”