With January’s dreary weather and the pandemic keeping many people at home, some families may be looking for a fun yet safe way to get out of the house.
The Classic Center’s Family Movie Series began in December, with a showing of “Home Alone.” The next films in the lineup are “The Greatest Showman,” on Jan. 29 and “Big” on Feb. 26, both showing at 6:30 p.m. in The Classic Center Theatre.
Philip Verrastro, executive vice president of entertainment and administration at The Classic Center, said his team got the idea to host the movie series in the fall after having an outdoor movie screening. After receiving positive feedback from attendees, they got the idea to host a family movie series, he said.
“That's kind of how it started was just giving folks entertainment options that were safe and that were feasible in this environment and utilizing a theater that was not super busy,” Verrastro said.
The “Home Alone” screening had about 100 attendees, Verrastro said, and the projected turnout for “The Greatest Showman” seems to be increasing. However, the increased turnout doesn’t necessarily need to cause concern for safety. The Classic Center Theatre has 2,090 seats, giving enough space for “plenty of distancing” between parties, Verrastro said.
In addition to social distancing, The Classic Center is taking other precautions such as requiring face masks in the building at all times (except for when actively eating or drinking), staggering entry times for guests, offering contactless ticketing and concessions and cleaning the theater with electrostatic sprayers. Guests are also required to sign health waivers stating they haven’t been in direct contact with coronavirus before entry, Verrastro said.
RW Allen Construction, a privately held commercial contractor based in Augusta with an office in Athens, is sponsoring the event. The company’s Director of Business Development Ray McEwen said the company feels that it’s important to support the community, and sponsoring events with The Classic Center is a way to do that.
“I think we all want to get out of our homes, into a safe place, and I think The Classic Center is doing a super job of creating that atmosphere and that space,” McEwen said.
While tickets may be slightly more expensive than what movie theaters are currently offering at $15 each, or four for $50 and six for $72, viewing a screening at The Classic Center might offer more peace of mind than a typical theater.
“A good thing about this is we're not showing three [or] four movies a day, and it's very much controlled. We have quite a large space, so it's fairly manageable to deal with [the COVID-19 precautions],” Verrastro said.
The Classic Center may host events similar to the movie series in the future. Social distancing guidelines help keep both attendees and staff safe and comfortable, and they help keep the doors open, Verrastro said.
Tickets for the showings of “The Greatest Showman” and “Big” are available for purchase on The Classic Center website.