Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter by Chris Gardner on March 16, 2021.
The lights went down inside theater No. 9 on the upper deck of the AMC Century City 15 at 4:15 p.m. on Monday. A handful of moviegoers were still trickling in as high-octane trailers for Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and Universal’s Nobody played for a seated audience, which, once everyone was settled, topped out at 23.
They were there to see Fox Searchlight’s Nomadland — which scored six Oscar nominations earlier in the day including a history-making nod for director Chloé Zhao — but before the first frame appeared, AMC squeezed in an interstitial to remind guests of important COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing at all times except when eating or drinking. Then came a final message before the movie started, a bright graphic with bold letters and a voiceover to match that said, “Welcome Back to the Movies.”
The audience responded by doing something typically saved for the final credits (of a worthy film) — they erupted in applause with a handful of guests cheering, “Woo!” …