Alamo Drafthouse Courts Wary Moviegoers With Free ‘Bill & Ted’

Alamo Drafthouse, the quirky cinema chain that serves guests meals at their seats, will reopen about half of its locations this weekend — part of the theater industry’s attempt to recover from the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Its theaters will offer a free showing of MGM’s “Bill & Ted Face the Music” on Aug. 26, two days before it’s widely released in other theaters and on demand. The chain will also show older movies, like “Back to the Future” and “Inception,” as it waits for Hollywood studios to start debuting blockbusters again.

The movie-theater industry has been among the hardest hit by pandemic lockdowns. Most theaters have been closed since March, and are only slowly restarting in markets where the spread of the virus is less severe. The biggest chains, including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Cineworld Group Plc’s Regal, will have a larger push to reopen this weekend after putting safety protocols in place.

What remains to be seen is how audiences will respond to the methods cinemas employ to get them to return. AMC is offering movie tickets for 15 cents for its first day back, while other chains are offering discounts to loyalty members. And all the chains are touting their strict safety protocols, meant to ease customer concerns about sitting in an enclosed space with other people for hours.

Alamo Drafthouse said it will require customers to wear masks and is also giving families the option to rent out an entire theater for $150, letting them reduce contact with strangers.

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