Lafayette residents hoping to catch a movie on the big screen now that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ novel coronavirus stay-at-home order has been lifted will have limited options during the Phase 1 reopening.
The Grand 14 at 2315 Kaliste Saloom Road will reopen in a limited capacity beginning Friday. Private groups of up to 20 people can select from 49 films ranging from the Harry Potter franchise to The Big Lebowski and have a “personal cinema experience” for $100, said Amber Griffith, Southern Theatres creative and digital marketing manager.
Southern Theatres owns The Grand Theatres and AmStar Cinemas.
Private screenings must be booked seven days in advance and screenings are available between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily, according to the company’s website.
Griffith said the company plans to stagger booking times and auditorium use so that while private groups may be in the building at the same time, they can be kept separate in common areas and shouldn’t cross paths. Staggering times also allows the staff to sanitize the auditoriums after use.
Staff will wear masks and guests are also asked to wear masks, observe social distancing in common spaces and sit at appropriate distances in the auditoriums, she said.
“This way we could offer the option to come back to the theater. It allows some employees to continue working in a safe manner, limits the amount of people coming in and out and we knew we could do it for an affordable price. It’s a nice first step that we’re able to do safely for everyone,” Griffith said.
The Grand 14 is one of six locations launching this limited private screening opportunity; the other locations include The Grand’s venues in Alexandria, Slidell, Conroe, Texas and Macon, Georgia, according to their website.
Griffith said the company is assessing possibilities at The Grand 16 at 3141 Johnston Street, but nothing has been decided. They chose to open the Kaliste Saloom Road location because planned theater renovations are complete and guests can enjoy the location's new reclining chairs.
Morrison Companies, owners of Celebrity Theatres, announced their cinemas would remain closed during the state’s Phase 1 reopening and they anticipate returning to business in the weeks prior to blockbuster releases in early July. The company operates a movie theater in Broussard.
An exact projected reopening date was not given.
“The health and safety of our staff and guests are our highest priority, and we are currently working on reopening in an environment that is safe and welcoming to each and every guest,” a company statement said.
Griffith said Southern Theatres is also considering the summer blockbuster schedule as the company discusses wider reopening plans. If studios decide to push back release schedules, it could change the public reopening timeline because new films are the main drivers in audience attendance. The new film experience is central of the cinema experience, she said.
“We’re trying to firm up the plans for what a cinema experience is going to look like further down the road,” she said.