ST. CHARLES – As regular moviegoers, Vince Tessitore and his family were happy to be back at Charlestowne 18 movie theater on Friday to catch the new superhero movie "Bloodshot," starring Vin Diesel.
Charlestowne 18 reopened on Friday as the state moves into phase 4 of Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan. It had been closed since March 16 as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"We love going to the movies and it's great to see them open," the North Aurora resident said. "We would go to the movies probably at least once a week."
And it's not just about going to see a movie.
"We love the popcorn," Tessitore said. "We can't get good movie popcorn at home."
St. Charles resident Elizabeth Naatz was also at Charlestowne 18 on Friday with her son, Carson, 10, and daughter, Caroline, 6. They were there to see the new "Trolls World Tour" movie.
"Caroline was a huge fan of the first 'Trolls' movie," Naatz said. "I always take them to movies and we always come here."
Naatz is a teacher at Ferson Creek Elementary School in St. Charles.
Classic Cinemas is taking various health and safety precautions to ensure the safety of their patrons, including disinfecting seats after every show. All employees must pass a health and temperature screening prior to their shift and wear masks and gloves throughout their shift.
Patrons are urged to wear masks and to consider purchasing tickets online. They are asked not to remove their masks until seated.
In addition, auditorium capacity will be limited to 50% with a 50 person cap based on state guidelines. Gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed in phase 4.
"I just want to make sure everyone's safe," Charlestowne 18 General Manager Randy Pollock said.
Charlestowne 18 is part of the Classic Cinemas movie theater chain. Even before the pandemic, the majority of their patrons were purchasing their tickets online.
"Before the virus came around, 80 percent of our guests were buying their tickets online," Pollock said.
Donnie Wahlberg and his wife, actress and television/radio host Jenny McCarthy, live in St. Charles and regularly visit Charlestowne 18. Pollock arranged for the couple to record a video welcoming patrons back to the movie theater.
"They've been here quite a bit," Pollock said.
Also presenting welcome back messages are St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina and Nick Smith, who wrote and directed the movie "Munger Road," which was filmed locally.