Coronavirus and Cinemas: Who's Open, Who's Closed, and What We're Doing
As most cinemas close, we’ll still be here for audiences and filmmakers
There's no getting round it: The coronavirus outbreak has been a heavy blow to the communal act of film watching. But that doesn't mean there aren't still plenty of movies and shows to watch, podcasts to download, and games to play: and in the current situation, we all need that more than ever.
How we'll be responding at the Chronicle: During the current outbreak, we'll still be reporting, reviewing, and writing about what's happening onscreen. Every week in print we'll have reviews of some of the big new on-demand and streaming releases, plus gaming news and more. We'll also be highlighting local crowdfunding opportunities through our One in a Crowd column, and making viewing recommendations in What'cha Watchin'?.
We'll also have plenty of new content at austinchronicle.com/screens, in particular a special collaboration with the folks at the Austin Film Commission. They're currently hunting down where you can find every film that has ever been made in Austin, from blockbusters to award winners to movies of the week, as well as where they are available to stream or buy online, and we'll be highlighting one a day, every day, so you'll all remember what an amazing movie town this is.
If you have any projects you'd like to tell us about – a podcast, web series, film on VOD or streaming, app, whatever – contact us at ATXfilmnews@austinchronicle.com.
Which cinemas are still open?
Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In: It seems that the city ban on large gatherings isn't affecting drive-ins, so both the Austin Mueller (2103 E. M. Franklin) and Round Rock (3300 E. Palm Valley) locations are still open. Owner and founder Josh Frank explained via email that he contacted the city and is waiting to see if the restrictions hitting enclosed theatres affect him. As drive-ins are more like to-go orders at a restaurant than sit-in, he is continuing with his programming. Attendees will no longer have to hand over their phone to show their eticket, instead simply showing the screen at the gate. Presealed concessions can be preordered and delivered to your car at their Round Rock site now, and that will be added in Austin this week. Walk-up tickets will still be sold but at dramatically decreased numbers. More details and bookings at www.bluestarlitedrivein.com.
Doc's Drive-In: The Buda-based outdoor cinema is staying open (although the bathroom will be closed). Customers will still be able to order concessions via cellphone, with delivery to your window. 1540 Satterwhite, Buda, www.docsdriveintheatre.com.
I Luv Video: Good news for fans of physical media. It seems that the world's largest and oldest video store is still open for rentals. 4803 Airport, www.iluvvideos.com
Which cinemas are closed?
AFS Cinema: The Austin Film Society-run two-screen arthouse cinema announced its closure before the city declaration. Anyone with a ticket can either request a raincheck or a refund, or convert their ticket into a donation to AFS. Member benefits will be on hold until the cinema reopens and will be extended for the length of closure. As AFS is a nonprofit, the society is asking for contributions through this difficult time. Find details – and also Richard Linklater's introductions at past film screenings – at www.austinfilm.org.
Alamo Drafthouse: The locally based arthouse/exploitation/new release chain has closed all its directly owned locations, including all Austin-area sites (Lakelike, Mueller, Ritz, Slaughter Lane, South Lamar, Village). All online ticket purchases and fees are being refunded automatically. Anyone who purchased advance tickets in-person at the box office can contact email@example.com for refund details. Season Pass memberships will be paused, and any unused time on current subscription periods will be applied when the cinemas open.
AMC: The national chain closed all locations nationally for 6-12 weeks. Area sites affected include AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10, AMC Barton Creek, and AMC Lakeline. All A-List subscriptions have been paused for the duration of the closure.
Cinemark: The Plano-based chain, which locally includes Cinemark Southpark Meadows in Austin, as well as Cinemark Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave, Cinemark Cedar Park, Cinemark 20 and XD in Pflugerville, and Cinemark Round Rock, is closed for the foreseeable future. All online advance ticket purchases will be refunded automatically: Tickets purchased in-person will be refunded by filling out a request at www.cinemark.com/contact-us. Movie Club memberships will be paused with no loss of movie credits. The expiration date for all Movie Rewards has been extended to June 30.
Galaxy: The chain's Austin location at Highland, near the new ACC campus, is closed for the foreseeable future.
Ipic: The deluxe chain has closed its Domain location in compliance. Unclaimed birthday rewards for Gold+ members for March and April will be extended to May 31.
Moviehouse & Eatery: Cinépolis, which owns and operates both Trails at 620 and Lantana Place Moviehouses in Austin, has closed all locations. All advance tickets will be refunded: Tickets purchased in person will be refunded by visiting sites.
Regal: The first national chain to close. Austin locations affected include Regal Gateway & IMAX, Regal Arbor, Regal Metropolitan, and Regal Westgate. Unlimited memberships have been suspended for the duration.
Southwest Theaters Lake Creek 7: The theatre, which recently changed from a second-run to new releases, was planning to remain open with enhanced hygiene protocols and tickets will be limited to 10 per screening. However, they have now become the last chain to close, with a brief message stating that "we value your patronage and look forward to serving you again very soon."
Vulcan Video: The video rental store experimented with phone orders for for curbside pickup, but announced on March 23 that it is closing completely for the foreseeable future. The drop box will be available for returns, and customers can contact the store via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further info.
This story has been updated to note the closures of Southwest Theaters Lake Creek 7 and Vulcan Video after the issue went to press.