San Antonio Movie Chain Reopens Early, Attracts 3,000 Customers on First Weekend

Trolls World Tour Bloodshot I Still Believe Split - Publicity - H 2020
DreamWorks Pictures; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Michael Kubeisy

Santikos Entertainment operates three locations in the sprawling Texas city.

Hollywood and theater owners received welcome news over the weekend as 3,000 moviegoers showed up at a trio of San Antonio-area theaters that have reopened early with strict social distancing measures in place.

The three locations are operated by Santikos Entertainment, a mainstay of the sprawling Texan city. The upscale Palladium Imax, which boasts 19 auditoriums, generated $7,019 in ticket sales, according to those with access to Comscore theater grosses.

At $5.41 per ticket — a discounted price — that equates to more than 1,297 customers.

Tickets were also discounted to $5.41 at Santikos' nearby Cibolo and Casa Blanca locations, which generated $3,374 and $5,496 in sales, respectively, bringing the total attendance for the three cinemas to just under 3,000 people. (All three sites offer luxury seating in select auditoriums.)

While those numbers wouldn't normally impress, studio executives were heartened, particularly since there are no new releases. The Santikos marquee instead boasts such titles as Trolls World Tour, Bloodshot, I Still Believe, The Hunt and Bad Boys for Life. "It shows me there is a pent-up demand," says one Hollywood distribution chief.

Texas is among a number of Southern states lifting stay-at-home orders and giving the okay for certain businesses to reopen if they limit capacity to 25 percent.

In the case of Santikos theaters, that means keeping every other row empty, as well as keeping groups of guests six feet apart from each other in an occupied row, or at least two empty seats. Santikos is also restricting concession sales; only employees can handle fountain machines, while there are no refills on soda and popcorn. Face masks for customers aren't yet mandatory.

Santikos says armrests, cup-holders and tray tables are being disinfected between every screening.

Most movie theaters in Texas aren't reopening as of yet, including those of Cinemark and AMC, two of the country's largest circuits. San Antonio alone has a population of more than 1.5 million.