Is it safe to go to a movie theater during Covid?

The Dune movie is premiering in U.S. theaters October 22. It will also begin streaming that same day on HBO Max. According to Denis Villeneuve, the movie’s esteemed director, people should watch Dune – If they feel comfortable – in an Imax theater, not at home on HBO Max.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

“At the end of the day, these are of course difficult times for everybody — safety first. If the audience feels comfortable, I encourage them to watch it on the big screen,” he said. “It has been dreamed, designed and shot thinking Imax. When you watch this movie on the big screen, it’s a physical experience.”

Safety first?

I cringe anytime I hear “safety first.” It’s been my experience that when someone says that, they mean the complete opposite. Villeneuve is no different. He doesn’t care about the safety of moviegoers. He cares about putting people in theater seats. Preferably, he wants people to flock to Imax theaters because people pay more for tickets at an Imax theater.

Is it safe to go to a movie theater during Covid? - Bent Corner
Denis Villeneuve

Villeneuve wants Dune to make a lot of money because if the movie isn’t a financial success at the box office, Warner Bros. will not allow him to make the second part of Dune. Yes, the movie opening in theaters and appearing on HBO Max on October 22 is only the first part of the movie. According to Villeneuve, Part 1 is an “appetizer.” Part 2, the movie he doesn’t know if he will be allowed to even make, is the “main meal.”

Make no mistake, if there isn’t a Part 2 to Dune, Villeneuve reputation with take a massive hit. And rightfully so. Respected movie directors don’t make half-movies.

Encouraging people to go to the movies during a pandemic is irresponsible

It’s not safe to go to a movie theater right now, not with the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus surging.

STAT, a medical sciences journalism website, conducted a poll of 28 public health experts. They asked epidemiologists, immunologists, and other infectious disease experts how they personally were navigating the risk of Covid.

When asked if they would go to a movie theater to see a film, 17 of the 28 said, “No.”  Others put qualifiers on their answer, things like if everyone is vaccinated and masked.

The problem is unvaccinated people are going to movie theaters. They’re not wearing masks. They’re not adhering to social distancing guidelines. Movie theaters are operating and full capacity.

I live in Washington County Maryland, a Covid high-risk area

Where I live in Maryland, today’s positivity rate is 8.94% and the case rate per 100K is 47.76. Coincidently, we have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. Most people here are not wearing masks. There are zero Covid restrictions in place.

As it stands today, 22 September 2021, it is not safe to go to a movie theater, sitting in close proximity of unvaccinated, unmasked people for a long period of time.

Will things drastically change one month from today? I’ve been lousy at predicting the future when it comes to Covid. I think everyone has. I thought this pandemic would be all but over by now when vaccines began rolling out in December of 2020. Never in my wildest imagination did I think such a large segment of the population would refuse to get vaccinated. People suck.

I plan on watching Dune at home on HBO Max. It seems the safest course of action to take.

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