Gross-Alaska Theatres is set to reopen two locations in Ketchikan and Juneau after closing all sites in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Coliseum Theatre in Ketchikan and the Glacier Cinemas theater in Juneau — but not Juneau's 20th Century Theatre — will reopen Friday.
The reopening comes with a slew of mitigation procedures, including social distancing and reserved seating.
Kenny Solomon-Gross, the vice president and general manager of operations for Gross-Alaska, spoke with the Daily News about the plan on Monday.
"We changed our whole methodology and thinking within our company of how we're going to open back up and how we're going to open back up safely," Solomon-Gross said.
Solomon-Gross said that on March 15, Gross-Alaska became the first theater chain to shut down in Alaska due to the pandemic.
He explained that although the company could have reopened some locations in May, the decision was delayed on grounds of safety.
"We as a company decided to wait until we would be able to put in place a proper mitigation plan that was supported by the (National Theater Owners Association)," Solomon-Gross explained.
That plan includes "dynamic seat buffering," which will reduce a theater's capacity to less than 50% in each auditorium by blocking off two seats on either side of one available seat. Gross estimated that with these measures, a theater would likely be filled to around 22% - 25% capacity.
Seats will be arranged in this manner either in "pods" for households, or for single individuals.
Other mitigation measures include employee health checks, mandatory face coverings for all, hand washing, cleaning high-touch surfaces and restrooms every half hour, and utilizing an online ticketing system and reserved seating.
Solomon-Gross said that Gross-Alaska would be complying with emergency officials and orders in each area, stating that if one community experienced a case spike resulting in a recommended shutdown, the theater would follow that order immediately.
"Before anything else, we're concerned with community safety," Solomon-Gross said.
In Ketchikan, "Beauty and the Beast" and "Unhinged" will be playing throughout next week.
In Juneau, the first movies to be screened will be "Black Panther," "Unhinged" and "Inside Out."