by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Big Screen Movies Return to West Virginia
HNN file photo with permission Marquee Cinemas

Soften the lights, roll the projector, pull the curtain. Big screen movies have returned following a pandemic hiatus that had some forecasters predicting that the grand multiplexes would not survive a lengthy business interruption.

The first evidence of that fallacy came when select drive ins gained permission to light up the night and cars filled the lots even with playgrounds, concessions and number of cars restricted. They picked up films that had just opened before the pandemic emergency and reached back for some popular films of the past. 

News media hailed the 're birth' of the outdoor cinemas which had been gradually stolen by malls, big box stores, and an inability to afford the upgrade from 35mm to digital projection.

Marquee Cinemas, family-owned chain based in Beckley with screens in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, , Connecticut and New York, will only be opening cinemas in Kentucky, West Virginia and Florida. They will roll film from digital servers that assist in projecting impeccable screen quality and increasingly enhanced Dolby surround sound

Marquee has few competitors as the nations largest chains Regal, AMC, Cinemark have chosen to stay idol until Hollywood can roll out some new product, rather than depending on films in release at the time of the big shut down or retro classics.  The business choices have set off angry words between cinema executives and certain Hollywood studios who elected to push out their big tent pole as a premium home streaming release prior to a theatrical run. 

Nearly  all new films give cinemas a 60-75 day exclusive "window" before releasing the film to other media i.e. streaming, pay TV, premium TV, or other venues. But release dates vary by country which is why a little surfing may find some "new" films streaming. All are subject to shut down for copyright infringement, but the servers are often in international waters or the jurisdiction of a nation that does not honor intellectual copyright laws.

The studios shifted release dates, fearing moviegoers will be overcome by virus anxiety and not risk gathering with strangers. But the distancing and cleaning guidelines hopefully will keep virus outbreaks steady or on the down turn. The emergence of nationwide protest marches strongly suggests the people want out of their cocoons, so let the flicks roll.

Marquee fills in some gaps with full week runs of some of their popular Flashback films, such as The Wizard of Oz, the Harry Potter Series, Gonnies and Grease.

The chain has cleaned and polished, added six foot social distancing, will operate with patrons spread out in the auditoriums , and mask wearing.

Pullman 16 will be the only cinema operating within a 50 mile radius of Huntington. Marquee's Southridge will reopen in South Charleston and the Teays Valley Cinemas in Scott Depot has opened its doors.

Films showing include I Still Believe, Fantasy Island, Invisible Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Bad Boys for Life and Jumanji the Next Level.