Count Basie Center readies new Basie Center Cinemas for October opening

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RED BANK – Directors of the Count Basie Center for the Arts, Monmouth Street, announced the not-for-profit performing arts organization has assumed operations of the White Street cinema in Red Bank with the intention of opening as the rebranded Basie Center Cinemas in October.

The announcement came a week after Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey’s movie theaters would be permitted to reopen at the lesser of 150 persons or 25% of capacity. At those numbers, Basie Center Cinemas’ auditoriums will hold 51 and 33 people, respectively, according to a press release.

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Movie theaters in the Garden State had been closed since mid-March when the 2020 coronavirus pandemic began.

“We were set to announce the Basie Center Cinemas project in April, but we had to put everything on hold,” said Adam Philipson, president and CEO, Count Basie Center for the Arts.

“We are grateful Gov. Murphy has allowed movie theaters to operate at a reduced capacity, which will allow us to provide a safe, socially distanced cinema experience for patrons beginning next month,” he said.

“I am very excited for the Count Basie Center for the Arts and their new opening of Basie Center Cinemas,” said state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth). “People are very eager to once again safely have an entertaining night out. This experience is a step forward in bringing normalcy back to the community, while still proceeding with health and safety as our No. 1 priorities.”

Under the direction of Basie Center Executive Vice President and General Manager Izzy Sackowitz, Basie Center Cinemas will feature independent and major studio releases, film lectures and workshops, film festivals and family programming, and will act as an annex location for the Basie Center’s arts and education programs, according to the press release.

Late-night showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a long-standing tradition at the theater, will continue, according to the press release.

Basie Center Cinemas will debut in strict accordance with state social distancing mandates:

• The facilities’ two theaters will hold 51 or 33 people, respectively;

• Patrons will be required to wear a face mask at all times, except when eating or drinking;

• Seats will be sold in sets of two and four, with at least 6 feet of space surrounding seats in all directions. Single seats will be available as well;

• The lobby will be retrofitted to facilitate contact-free ticketing and concessions;

• Theaters will be disinfected between showings;

• Restroom occupancy will be limited to one patron at a time.

“Fans of independent film can rest easy knowing social distancing is very much possible in this complex and that cinemas typically operate at reduced capacities to begin with,” Sackowitz said.

“In addition to deep cleanings between each screening and again nightly, usable seats will be properly distanced, foot traffic will be relegated to one direction, and concessions and ticketing will be completely touchless.

“The audience for independent films is smaller than the summer blockbuster crowd, which means the Basie Center Cinemas experience can be safe and enjoyable for all,” Sackowitz said.

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