It’s the renaissance for indoor movie experiences in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties
Warriors rage with all the might their strength — and the power of computer-generated imagery — can muster in the new “Mortal Kombat.”
But another drama is unfolding, and it might just be as suspenseful as the relentless battle for Earthrealm: the re-emergence of the movie-going experience.
Indoor movie theaters have reopened, and a large audience (but still within COVID-19 guidelines) watched “Mortal Kombat” at Metro Theatres’ Camino Real last weekend in Goleta. In fact, a large but socially distanced line was seen heading there to the place where theaters make their money: concessions.
The return of indoor films is another step forward to normalcy during a pandemic that has lasted more than a year. And more theaters are scheduled to open in coming weeks as fans eagerly await films such as “Black Widow,” the Marvel movie set for a July 9 release.
Already, blockbusters such as “Godzilla vs. King Kong” — who are you rooting for? — have come to Metro Theatres’ Camino Real in Goleta and its Metro 4 and Fiesta Five on State Street in Santa Barbara. And you’ll find Oscar-nominated movies such as “Promising Young Woman” — just try to keep with the movie’s plot twists (as well as star Carey Mulligan’s intriguing performance) — at local theaters.
There’s more news for local film buffs. Fairview Theatre, the three-screen Goleta site known for its family-friendly movies, is set to reopen May 14.
No announcement has been made yet for several of Metro’s other theaters in Santa Barbara — Hitchcock Cinema & Public House (known for its independent or “art house” films), Paseo Nuevo Cinemas or the one-screen but atmospheric (and 2,000-seat) Arlington Theatre.
Meanwhile, according to playingtoday.com, Parks Plaza Theater in Buellton and Movies Lompoc are currently closed “but with plans to reopen soon.”
The same site notes Hi-Way Drive-In remains open nightly in Santa Maria. Outdoor theaters were able to be open when indoor theaters were closed and remain popular.
In Goleta, West Wind Drive-In experienced a renaissance during the pandemic and remains popular for its mix of family, sci-fi, dramatic and horror movies.
A short trek south of Santa Barbara leads to a larger choice of movies, including Oscar-nominated films such as “Minari” and “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks, at the indoor Cinemark theaters in downtown Ventura and Oxnard. (Cinemark is also known as Century.)
Cinemark also has offered reclining seats (not available in Santa Barbara or Goleta) and discounts on Oscar-nominated films.
Elsewhere, the Roxy 11 is now open in Camarillo, and movies are showing at Plaza Cinemas 14 in Oxnard.
There’s no word yet on when Buenaventura 6 — the Ventura discount theater known for its second-run movies and Thursday night classic films (everything from “Casablanca” to “Space Balls”) — will reopen. Regency Theatres, which operates the theater, also owns Regency Camarillo, known for showing “art house” films, and there’s no announcement on that reopening.
In the meantime, if you want to be pampered during blockbusters with chicken tenders and other delights delivered to you as you relax in your reclining, heated seats, drive up the hill on Highway 101 to AMC Drive-in Thousand Oaks 14.
Considering the pandemic, you could call this badly needed cinematic therapy.
Here are websites for theaters in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Metro Theatres (Santa Barbara and Goleta): metrotheatres.com.
Regal Edwards (Santa Maria and Camarillo): regmovies.com.
West-Wind Drive-In (Goleta): westwinddi.com.
Parks Plaza Theater in Buellton, Movies Lompoc and Hi-Way Drive-In in Santa Maria: playingtoday.com.
Regency Theatres (discount theater in Ventura, art house theater in Camarillo): regencymovies.com.
Cinemark (Ventura and Oxnard): www.cinemark.com.
Roxy 11 in Camarillo and Plaza Stadium Cinemas in Oxnard: santarosacinemas.com
AMC (Thousand Oaks): www.amctheatres.com.