Movie buffs can rejoice as movie theaters begin to reopen for the first time since COVID-19 forced widespread shutdowns across the U.S. in March. 

Regal Cinemas is among the major chains opening their doors in select locations starting today.

Andy Stone, regional director of Regal, said the company has been gearing up for its return and has added a few enhancements to take the viewing experience to the next level.

"Our philosophy is about the best place to watch a movie. So that means bringing everything that we can, that's out on the market, to really offer that to the public," Stone told Cheddar.

Some of those enhancements include a 4DX viewing theater that imitates environmental surroundings by incorporating moving seats and elements like simulated rain and wind. 

While theaters received tech upgrades to heighten the viewing experience, Regal also has implemented a number of safety measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that goes beyond social distancing and mask enforcement.

"We've also used technology. We've introduced a concession app. So for individuals who aren't confident in going up to that concession stand to make their order, they're now able to do so on an app from their phone when they arrive at the cinema," Stone said.

While 200 theaters are open today nationwide, and an additional 100 are set to open next week, locations in New York City remain closed as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has deemed the movie business as non-essential. Stone disputed that and said the theater experience is important to human socialization.

"We've had enough of being locked up in our homes watching movies on handheld devices [and] TVs," he said. "It's all about going out, socializing, and sharing an experience."

For Regal Cinemas, the ability to open its doors and welcome not only customers but its valued workers are essential to the continued growth and success of the chain, Stone said. With New York City locations still shuttered, he noted many workers there will remain on furlough. 

"So many of us started off as 16-year-olds popping corn behind a concession stand and [have] grown through the business and developed. Individuals are missing out on that," he explained.

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