As more movies come to the big screen and theaters continue to reopen across the country, including in New York City and Los Angeles after extended closures, a Sarasota-Manatee cinema has also announced its reopening.
Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, which has been temporarily closed since December after initially reopening in June, will open again starting March 31 with screenings of the new blockbuster “Godzilla vs. Kong.” It will then expand on April 2 by adding action film “Nobody,” animated children’s movies “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Tom & Jerry” and Best Picture Oscar nominees “Nomadland” and “Minari.”
Starting April 2, Lakewood Ranch Cinemas plans to be open Fridays through Sundays only. The theater is operated by the nonprofit Sarasota Film Society along with downtown Sarasota arthouse Burns Court Cinemas, which will remain temporarily closed with hopes of reopening by May, said SFS president and CEO Renee Baggott.
Both theaters closed last December because of lower attendance and lack of new releases to screen amid the pandemic. Now with more big-name movies coming out, along with a successful recent Save Our Cinemas fundraiser, Baggott said they feel ready to reopen Lakewood Ranch Cinemas.
“Hollywood had a lot to do with that, the release schedule being solidified, because the release schedule’s not been solid for months and months,” Baggott said. “But now it seems that they’re committed to at least releasing most of what was pushed back.”
Masks will be required except when patrons are eating or drinking, Baggott said, along with other safety measures including reduced capacity and staggered showtimes. Both theaters will also remain available for private rentals, though Lakewood Ranch Cinemas will now focus on weekdays when regular screenings are not taking place.
Other reopened local movie theaters include CMX CineBistro Siesta Key, B&B Theatres Venice Galleria Stadium 11 and AMC’s Bradenton and Sarasota multiplexes, though the latter is also only open Fridays-Sundays currently.
Regal Cinemas, which temporarily closed its U.S. locations, including in Sarasota and Bradenton, in October, this week announced plans to reopen select theaters on April 2 for “Godzilla vs. Kong,” then open more theaters in the following weeks. Reopening dates for Regal’s Sarasota-Manatee locations were not immediately available.
The reopenings indicate growing confidence of theater owners in recent weeks as more films are released, vaccinations increase and key markets such as New York and L.A. allow movies theaters to operate again. Even as several new films have been released simultaneously on streaming services, with “Tom & Jerry” and “Godzilla vs. Kong” streaming for 30 days on HBO Max and “Raya and the Last Dragon” available to purchase through Disney+, some are still choosing to see them on the big screen.
Lakewood Ranch Cinemas is at 10715 Rodeo Drive #8. For more information, call 941-955-3456 or visit.
Email entertainment reporter Jimmy Geurts at [email protected] Support local journalism by subscribing.