Premiere theater

Premiere 6 General Manager Shelby Brantly stands in one of the theaters that will be showing classic films at reduced audience capacity. The 53-year-old theater is now open. JASON M. REYNOLDS

Premiere 6, Murfreesboro’s independent theater, is open for business and hoping for a blockbuster summer.

There are not many independent cinemas, and there are not many state COVID-19 theater guidelines, so Premiere 6 is carefully reopening, General Manager Shelby Brantly said.

“We want to ease into this,” she said.

Premiere 6 Movie Theater is staggering movie times so guests for different films will not mingle in the lobby, she said. There will be an hour between the same film showing to allow 30 minutes for cleaning and 30 minutes for new guests to arrive and get seated.

Only four of the six theaters will show films, and they will operate at between 10 percent to 20 percent capacity, she said. For example, a theater of 140 seats will have only about 20 seats available. People visiting as a group, like a family, will be asked to sit together, and the seats around them will be closed.

Staff has been at the theater and cleaning since mid-April, said Brantly, who worked her way up the ranks over the years from concessions to managing the business, starting with the founder, the late Bill Brooks.

Premiere 6 has been selling gift cards and bagged popcorn to-go for the past few weeks. It learned only on May 15 that the state was allowing theaters to reopen as of Friday, May 22, so the staff went into overdrive to get ready, Brantly said.

Now that Premiere 6 is open, customers will not be watching new films but instead a collection of mostly classics, Brantly said, because studios are focusing on strategies like releasing new titles to video on demand. 

At the same time, not every classic is available from distributors, she said. Each week she aims to have (as closely as possible) one each of these genres: family; musical or rom-con; classic; and something R-rated, sci-fi or scary. 

The opening week titles are “American Sniper”, “Jurassic Park”, “The Neverending Story” and “Fried Green Tomatoes”.

Upcoming titles include “Back to the Future”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”, “Smokey and the Bandit”, “The Goonies”, “Forrest Gump”, “Pulp Fiction” and “Grease”.

As an incentive, tickets are $5, Brantly said.

The first new anticipated blockbuster coming to Premiere 6 will be Christopher Nolan’s “Tenent” on July 17, she said. “Mulan” will show on July 24, and “Wonder Woman” is scheduled for Aug. 14.

Premiere 6 has done well the last couple of years showing kids’ summer classics because their parents and grandparents want the kids to be able to watch their favorite childhood films on the big screen, Brantly said. So, her plan is expanding that theme. Also, she said she believes that being the first theater in town to reopen can bring in a whole new crowd.

She said she disagrees with people who say theaters will go away, just as she disagrees with those who say the same about restaurants. People like to watch films with other people on the big screen, and they like to enjoy food with other people while not cooking, she said.

“It’s an experience,” Brantly said.

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