After closing over a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, Moore County’s only multiplex is set to re-open.
Movies will return to Paragon Sandhills on April 16, nearly 13 months after Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order shuttering cinemas across the state. While a subsequent order in October allowed movie theaters to open at 30 percent of their normal capacity, many multiplexes remained closed because of the dearth of new films being released at the time.
Theaters can operate at 50 percent capacity under Cooper’s latest mandate, which took effect March 26, and big-budget releases like "Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Mortal Kombat” are expected to perform strongly at the box office this month. Both movies will be shown at Paragon Sandhills, according to a spokesperson for the Florida company that owns the 10-screen theater.
“The movie industry has been kind of slow to recover from the pandemic, but the studios are starting to feel more comfortable because major markets like New York and L.A. are opening back up,” Don Edwards, director of marketing for Paragon Entertainment Holdings, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “And since the vaccines have come out, people are more willing to congregate.”
Edwards said the Southern Pines theater was recently inspected to ensure it was safe to re-open following the long hiatus.
“We’re excited to get the doors back open,” he said. “We’ve had multiple locations open in Florida for a while now with safety measures in place, so we’re pretty comfortable with everything.”
Paragon Sandhills underwent an extensive renovation before the pandemic. Electronically reclining seats and upgraded screens were installed in the 20-year-old theater’s auditoriums, among other improvements.
A ribbon-cutting was held in January 2020 to celebrate the $4 million facelift. Six weeks later, the theater was forced to close.
Edwards said the multiplex will operate on Fridays and weekends for the time being, but the theater is expected to switch to a seven-day-a-week schedule by summer.
“This has been a long time coming,” Edwards said of the re-opening. “It’s been a crazy year.”
Sunrise Theater, a single-screen cinema in downtown Southern Pines, has been open since October. “Godzilla vs. Kong” will begin a two-weekend run at the theater on Friday.