BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Somewhere over the COVID-tier rainbow, in the red tier specifically, movie theaters have been allowed to operate once again. Our community’s beloved Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater is one of those establishments opening up its doors to the public.
Tonight, ticket holders will be off to see 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'.
Normally the theater can fit about 1,600 people, but as per state guidelines, only 100 people will be attending.
It's the first time the theater is officially reopening to the public since March.
The theater chose to showcase 'The Wizard of Oz' because it was one of the flicks they were unable to show during their Cults & Classics series once things locked down.
“We wanted to pick a family movie. It’s also a Thanksgiving-ish movie, so we felt right to kick it off with the 'Wizard of Oz',” said Matt Spindler, manager of the Bakersfield Fox Theater.
On top of limiting the number of people in attendance, the Fox Theater is pulling back the curtain on some of the COVID-era changes.
Spindler said the second you walk in, you’ll be required to wear a mask and socially distance. The staff will also wear masks and gloves, especially at concessions. Seats will also be thoroughly sanitized before and after use.
“It’s actually fogging a special chemical onto our seats and places that get touched frequently to clean it for COVID,” Spindler said.
Only time will tell if this will be the first showing of many or the last for a while.
With COVID-19 numbers rising around the country, there is a possibility of Kern County slipping back into the purple tier, which will mean theaters will shut down, again.
From a business standpoint, it won’t affect the Fox too much. They’ve already partially or completely furloughed their employees. plus, Spindler says they’re really not making any money at this showing.
“We have thankfully qualified for some of the COVID loans, but even then in January and February, we may need to figure something else out. Hopefully, now that things have cooled down politically we’ll see the save our stages act go through congress," Spindler said.
He projects they’ll lose between $600 to $1,000 a movie. They’re hoping to get some sponsorships to keep things going for the community.
Either way, Spindler says this historic theatre has been here since the ‘30s, and isn’t going anywhere.
“It gets downtown lively. We get the lights turned on, it’s fun, it’s exciting. It does a lot for the area,” he said.
The showing tonight at 6 is already sold out. For those of you that will be missing out on that, don’t forget that we do have our Live Stream Vaccine concert with the Fox every Friday.