For nearly two years, Gilroy residents anxiously awaited the city’s only movie theater to reopen while it underwent an extensive renovation.
The CineLux Gilroy Cafe and Lounge at 6851 Monterey St. was ready to reopen its doors in March, inviting the community to gander at its various upgrades and view the latest Hollywood releases in luxury reclining chairs.
However, just before the corn kernels started popping, the country went on lockdown to fight the growing Covid-19 threat, and indoor activities, such as movie theaters, were among the first to be prohibited.
But CineLux Theatres is bringing back an experience thought at one time in the not-so-distant past to be a dying relic, but now is undergoing a revival: drive-in theater.
The CineLux Pop-Up Drive-In will make its debut Sept. 10 at 8pm in the Gilroy theater’s parking lot, with “The Goonies” being the evening’s entertainment shown on a 40-foot inflatable screen.
CineLux Area Manager Christopher Gunsky said the event will mark the first time the company has hosted a pop-up drive-in theater.
“We’re really excited to open it up,” he said. “There’s not a lot of options to get out of the house anymore. This is definitely a really cool option that we can provide for our community here in Gilroy.”
Capacity is limited to 50 vehicles. Tickets can be purchased at CineLux’s website at tinyurl.com/y5bfplfk.
CineLux also debuted its Take-Home Concessions event on Sept. 3, where people could purchase popcorn and other theater snack staples inside the remodeled lobby and take them home. More such events are scheduled at the Gilroy theater on Sept. 11 and 12 from 5-8pm.
The first take-home event was successful, Gunsky said.
“I was really blown away by how supportive everyone was,” he said. “We have some awesome support from our community. It was so much fun.”
California officials moved Santa Clara County into the “Red Tier” as part of the state’s new Covid-19 reopening plan on Sept. 8. Under that tier, movie theaters can reopen. However, the county’s Risk Reduction Order prohibits movie theaters to reopen indoor operations, and the stricter of the state or local order takes priority.
Whenever movie theaters are allowed to open in the county, Gilroy cinephiles will at long last be able to experience the upgrades CineLux put into the former Platinum Theatres.
San Jose-based CineLux announced on Jan. 1, 2019 that it had bought Platinum Theatres. The theater closed as crews began the renovation.
The seven-screen theater has received a complete overhaul. The box office was removed to add a lounge area and expand the lobby. A bar will serve craft beers and local wine, Gunsky said, and a full cafe will serve the traditional theater fare as well as sliders, mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings and more.
Two of the auditoriums feature what is called the CineLux XPS Extreme Picture and Sound, featuring a massive wall-to-wall screen so large that crews had to relocate the exit doors in order to get them to fit, according to Gunsky.
The other five auditoriums are equipped with cushy luxury recliners.
Gunsky said CineLux is itching to open the theater.
“We like to bring a first-class moviegoing experience to all the communities that we serve,” he said.
Gunsky said the theater will go “above and beyond” the Covid-19 safety requirements outlined by CinemaSafe, a nationwide alliance of theaters that have committed to federal, state and local regulations to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition to mandatory masks, social distancing, protective barriers and other protocols, Gunsky said showtimes will be spread out farther to allow for extensive auditorium cleanings between screenings.
CineLux owns and operates movie theaters at seven locations in the Bay Area, including at Tennant Station in Morgan Hill.