CONCORD — Carolina Mall Cinemas is making the most of things during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Gov. Roy Cooper issued a “stay-at-home” order in March, all movie theaters were shut down in the state and have not reopened since. Carolina Mall Cinemas remains closed, but it has pivoted to operating as a drive-in theater during the last three weeks.
Last weekend, the theater featured “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” on a 45 foot wide by 25 foot high screen while 100 cars packed the parking lot.
This weekend, the theater will feature “Talladega Nights” on Saturday and “Ghostbusters” tonight and Sunday. The theater could act as a drive-in indefinitely, according to general manager Bryan Smith, but it would love to get people back inside whenever possible.
For now, though, the theater is doing what it can with what it has, and there has been interest in the community for what it is producing.
“We’re in the entertainment business,” Smith said. “People have been coming to our facilities for years and years, and we’re just used to having a lot of people around.
“Right now, we can’t have that except for if we’re doing something like this drive-in, where we can get a few cars out where people can social distance and do their own thing where they’re in their cars, so it’s something that is fun.
“It seems like people are enjoying (the chance) to get out of the house some.”
The theater charges $20 per car for admission and is offering concessions in restaurant fashion, with workers taking orders from moviegoers who stay in their cars and then delivering items to the vehicles.
Patrons are asked to wear masks if they use the restrooms and maintain 6 feet of social distance at all times.
The location is not the only one Southeast Cinemas, which owns Carolina Mall Cinemas, is operating as a drive-in. There are several more locations the company is using to give people a chance to get out and watch a movie when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
This isn’t an ideal situation for anyone. During the summer, people love to see blockbusters and get out the blistering North Carolina heat, but with movie theaters being closed, theaters have had to adjust, and so far it’s working out well for Carolina Mall Cinemas.
“You do what you have to do,” Smith said.
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