The newly renovated Pinnacle 18 is the only Regal Cinema in North America that features a slide in the lobby.
Though customers can return to the movies beginning Friday, they’ll have to wait to use the slide, one of Regal’s many precautions against the spread of COVID-19.
Pinnacle is one of 190 Regal theaters opening nationwide on Friday, also including downtown Knoxville’s Regal Riviera, with new health and safety protocols to protect customers and employees, COO Matt Eyre told Knox News.
Once described by Eyre as more akin to a library, the newly remodeled Pinnacle in Knoxville — home to Regal’s U.S. headquarters — is one of just a handful of theaters in the U.S. with the new futuristic lobby that features new modern touches and upgraded food experiences.
“It’s going to feel like a completely different place, much more fun,” Eyre said.
The Regal Edwards Irvine Spectrum in California and Regal Union Square in New York have been renovated with the same look, although they remain closed for now. More than a dozen theaters in the U.S. will be updated by year’s end.
Now, Eyre said, they’re just waiting for customers.
“I think it represents the start of things to come,” Eyre said. “It’s really exciting for us to finally get open. We’ve been closed for nearly five months, and to be able to open in Knoxville with a brand-new looking theater, I think is really exciting for the whole community.”
Inside the new Regal theater
Once a staple of going to the movies, the Pinnacle’s box office is gone for good, replaced with small kiosks inside where customers can order tickets and choose seats. Of course, many customers already are purchasing tickets online, Eyre said.
As part of its reopening policy, customers will only be able to purchase tickets in every other row, and the ticketing system will automatically block off neighboring seats in between groups, so theaters will be at less than half capacity.
This weekend, movie goers will be able to screen classic films like “The Goonies” and “Jaws” for $5 in addition to new releases such as Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” and “Words on Bathroom Walls” at full price.
Pinnacle will be the first home of B-Fresh, a new-to-the-U.S. concept that sells açaí bowls, smoothies and juices made with fresh fruit.
The concession stands have been renovated and include shelves between checkout lines with easy-to-access candy and snacks. Once inside the building, guests can now order food online as well, Eyre said.
And guests will notice the transition to Pepsi products, which took place just before most Regal theaters closed.
The lobby also includes a full-service bar and drinks can be taken into the theaters. In the future, there will be tables and chairs near the bar, but for now it’s walk-up service only.
The arcade space has been moved to the mezzanine. Some arcade games will be shut down to meet social distancing requirements and all will be disinfected regularly. The slide, which starts in the arcade area and ends in the lobby, will remain closed for now, but the team is working on a disinfection plan, Eyre said.
Guests will see new features like contactless butter dispensers for popcorn, hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass and social distancing signs.
Customers will be required to wear masks except when eating and drinking in the auditoriums, which will be disinfected using a fogger between screenings.
“The best thing we can do for our guests right now is be safe,” Eyre said. “Follow all the COVID practices, make sure that we’re creating a really nice, friendly, safe environment for customers to come to.”
Another 90 Regal theaters will open Aug. 28, Eyre said, including Knoxville’s Cinebarre at West Town Mall and the Downtown West location.
In all, almost 300 Regal theaters will be open for the Sept. 3 wide release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” The film’s long awaited release will be the first test for theaters and studios to find out if consumers are ready to get back to the movies.
“We really need it to do well to stimulate the studios to release more product,” Eyre said.
Pinnacle is home to Regal’s premium screens 4DX, IMAX, ScreenX and RPX.
Email business reporter Brenna McDermott at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @_BrennaMcD.