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What Will Moviegoing Be Like When The Flicks In Boise Reopens?

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The Flicks
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Cinemas are among the final Idaho businesses to reopen in Governor Brad Little's four-phase plan to restart Idaho's economy in the shadow of COVID-19. If all goes as hoped, bars, nightclubs and some movie theaters might be able to swing their doors open by mid-June. But right now, Carole Skinner, co-owner of The Flicks prefers to open Boise's go-to cinema for independent and Oscar-nominated films on Friday, June 26.

"I want to be sure that I have some good movies to open with," said Skinner. "I'd rather open with a bang than a whimper."

Skinner visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about what will undoubtedly be a very different movie-going experience when The Flicks reopens.

“We did a big survey with a number of questions: ‘Are you comfortable with this? When would you come back if it were just up to you?’”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice.

Well, this pandemic has robbed us of so many things. And with every passing day, we wonder about when some of those things that we love will come back into our lives. The governor's four phases of re-opening the state's economy has allowed some businesses to reopen, slowly, but when might we be able to go to the movies again? And what does that look like?

Carol Skinner is here with us. She is co-owner of The Flicks, voted time and again, to be the region's favorite cinema, and Carol joins us live this morning via Zoom. Carol, good morning.

CAROLE SKINNER: Good morning.

PRENTICE: Do you have a sense of best case when The Flicks might reopen?

SKINNER: Yes. Our target date is June 26. We were first looking at June 19th, but I want to be sure that I have some good movies to open up with. I'd rather open up with a bang than a whimper, and we and our staff-

PRENTICE: What day of the week is the 26th?

SKINNER: It's a Friday.

Movies open on Fridays in my book. And so it will be a Friday that we will open.

PRENTICE: Okay. So walk us through that. A month from now, things could be quite different. I guess if it was today, I would hope that everyone would be wearing masks, but what are you thinking about?

SKINNER: Well, we're going to be doing social distancing, which means that probably rather than open with four movies, I would open with two movies, so we can have them each on two screens.

PRENTICE: That's right. You've got four screens. Right.

SKINNER: Right. And then we're going to be having social distancing. We've got a bunch of red tape that we're going to be putting X's on where to be. And of course, as you come into the building, and you stand in the concession line, we'll have that six foot distancing. Our employees will all be wearing masks. We really, really encourage all of our patrons to also wear marks as they come in. And of course it's patio weather, which is pretty great, because it gives us that much more open space for people to be. So we'll still be having our cafe open. You can have a whole meal, or you can have just your popcorn or a snack, and we'll have our beer and wine.

And so, we're going to have everything that we have always had, including the video rentals, but it's going to look a little bit different because you of course can sit with the people that you came with. You don't have social distance from your spouse or your children or whoever you have been self-quarantining with. For that reason, I'll have to be a little bit flexible, if you've been staying at home with 10 people and you take a whole row, our employees will be offering guidance and directing people so that we still have that six foot space.

I think are about the only business that has done this, but we did a big survey, “We did a big survey with a number of questions: ‘Are you comfortable with this? When would you come back if it were just up to you?’”

And we got some really good feedback and some people are like, "I'm not going anywhere unless everyone is wearing a mask." And we really, of course, want everyone to wear a mask. And we don't know what that will look like on June 26th, but I sort of am thinking because we're doing enough distancing within the theater auditoriums that once you get seated, you can take your mask off. How else are you going to have your popcorn and drink your beer?

PRENTICE: Let's talk about movies. What are the studios, what are the distributors telling you in regard to new films? Will they be ready to start sending new films out?

SKINNER: So some of them are ready now and they have films in the pipeline that were supposed to open now, and even last month that they haven't released yet. The bigger studios, their big opening is going to be the Christopher Nolan movie, Tenant. And that's going to be July 17th. And Mulan is sometime in July also, maybe a little bit earlier. And of course, those are not the kind of movies that we typically play.

PRENTICE: That said they are the canaries in the coal mine.

SKINNER. And the other distributors are kind of taking their cue from them. So a couple of really big movies, Personal History of David Copperfield.

PRENTICE: I adore THAT film. I saw it last September in Toronto. I can't wait for people to see this thing.

SKINNER: I know. And I love Dev Patel in anything, anyway.

And what a great take on that story. That's been postponed, but we don't have a new date yet, but it's not going to be June or July. We'll be lucky if it's in August.

PRENTICE: Have you heard about the new Wes Anderson film?

SKINNER: So The French Dispatch, which is the new Wes Anderson film, was going to be coming up in July. And they're postponing that now till October. And I've often said, about every three years, Wes Anderson just makes our whole summer. And so now I guess it's going to make our whole fall.

PRENTICE: Well, The Flicks is the very definition of a small business.

How have you been doing? How has your staff been doing? I know everyone is probably very anxious.

SKINNER: Well, we're all in touch with each other. Josie's still working and holding down the fort. And I have a couple of other employees that are going in the evening, checking the perimeter, going inside, making sure nothing's amiss and checking the patio to be sure no one's camping out there. The other employees have been furloughed and they're almost all of them are getting unemployment, a couple still live with their parents and I'm not sure if they applied, but they all want to come back to work, and we miss them, and we miss each other. We're kind of a family and it's weird not to get to see them every day. We're all ready to come back to work and share the films and just, the wonderful thing about the survey that we did is that I added at the end, please add a memory from The Flicks. I sat and laughed and then I cried and just some wonderful things, and how so many people have said what you have said, which is, "I can't wait to get back to The Flicks".

PRENTICE: The movie-going experience is an emotional experience, unlike any other, but doing it right and doing it safe is the highest priority.

SKINNER: Absolutely. Like I said, it's not just my staff that's our family. It's all of the people that come to The Flicks. It's one of the few places where people go by themselves and are completely comfortable and they usually run into someone they know, and they know the staff, and it's just one of those things where if you're a regular Flicks goer, you just feel like you belong there.

PRENTICE: Carol Skinner is co-owner of The Flicks. Take care, be safe, and we'll see you at the movies.

SKINNER: Oh, you too. Thank you, George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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