Let’s face it: no matter how elaborate your home entertainment system is, nothing can replicate the experience of viewing a film for the first time in a theater. Thankfully, Yelm and surrounding area residents once again have that option. As of September 4, Yelm Cinemas has reopened its doors and this time, it’s showing new movies.

As of September 4, Yelm Cinemas is once again showing new movies. Photo courtesy: Yelm Cinemas

“We looked at what was coming out and with kids going back to school, it seemed like a good time to reopen,” says General Manager Noah Aden. “We’ll be showing films on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a way for parents and kids in the community who have been cooped up at home to get a break and enjoy some new movies in a place to go that’s clean and safe.”

The first batch of films varies in when and how they’ve been distributed. Some are brand new, others have been out for a few weeks, and still others are available on demand. Cinema audiences can now enjoy “Tenet,” a Christopher Nolan film that follows a secret agent as he manipulates the flow of time to prevent World War III; “Unhinged,” a thriller starring Academy Award winner Russell Crowe as a seemingly unstable stranger who terrorizes a young woman following a road rage incident; “The New Mutants,” a Marvel film that is the final installment in the X-Men series;  “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” a romantic comedy about a woman dumped by her boyfriend, who creates an exhibit for souvenirs from past relationships; and “Bill and Ted Face the Music,” which picks up with the two beloved early 90s characters three decades later.

Tickets are available for purchase online any day of the week, or at the box office from Friday through Sunday. In compliance with statewide mandates, the self-serve concession stand will not be open, but bottled soda and other snacks will be available. “We’ll make sure our customers get the best concession experience possible within the state mandates,” says Aden.

Safety protocols like regular sanitization, limited and socially distanced seating and mask requirements are in effect. Photo courtesy: Yelm Cinemas

This is the second time the theater has opened since the pandemic began. In June, Yelm Cinemas was one of the first in the region to begin screening films, opting for classics like Jaws and The Goonies. However, they closed again after a few weeks. “We felt at the time that we couldn’t provide the best experience and service to our customers because of the mandates,” says Aden. “We weren’t showing new movies. In the interim, the theater began hosting regular curbside popcorn events that gained in popularity and were widely attended. One week they sold 400 buckets in just one hour.

Now, as in June, safety protocols are in place to minimize risk and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks are required and of the eight available auditoriums, just five are open, each at half capacity. Seating is again spaced out between families or groups and heavily used areas are sanitized regularly.

Community response has been positive, according to Aden. “We’ve heard from quite a few people who are very excited,” he says. “On this first weekend we’re not showing any kids’ movies, so we’ve seen a lot of adults who are looking for a date night. It’s a chance to come out and see a movie and grab some dinner at the Lounge next door.”

The theater will continue to feature new releases through the end of the year, including the disaster epic “Greenland” in September. “In September and October, the new releases are more spaced out,” says Aden. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to keep it to weekends only, but there will be a ton in November and December. Those will almost be like normal months.”

For now, the plan is to continue with weekends only and get a sense of the demand in the community. “We’ll see where it goes,” says Aden. “We want to get as much new stuff as quickly as possible so we can give people options. You can watch old movies anytime at home but there’s something about seeing a new movie in a theater.  I think the experience is really special for people.”

Learn more at the Yelm Cinemas website.

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