Hollywood Covid Reopening: New York Theaters, LA Theaters

As coronavirus cases continue to decline across the U.S. and President Joe Biden vows to disperse 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses by his 100th day in office, Hollywood is inching closer to reopening.

Entertainment is among the industries most crippled by the pandemic. Nationwide lockdowns forced the shutdowns of television and film productions, delayed movie premieres, shifted release strategies and closed movie theaters.

California is set to fully reopen its economy on June 15 if vaccinations remain widely available and hospitalizations continue to stabilize. It will relinquish the four-tiered, color-coded system that has guided the state’s reopening process during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, California will allow indoor concerts, theater performances and other gatherings beginning on April 15. Attendees will have to either show a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of full vaccination.

Los Angeles and Orange moved on April 30 into the orange or second-most-lenient tier, the third step in California’s reopening plan. To hit that milestone, a county must report 3.9 or fewer daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate under 5%. This allowed movie theaters and restaurants to increase indoor capacity from 25% (or 100 people) to 50% (or 200 people).

The move also allowed places of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums to raise indoor capacity from 25% to 50%, while bars could reopen outdoors without being required to also serve food. Outdoor sports and live performances resumed at 33% capacity.

Theaters in New York City, one of the largest movie markets in the country, opened at reduced capacity on March 5 for the first time in nearly a year. They will operate at 33% capacity starting on April 26. Live indoor performances across New York State commenced on April 2 with the reopening of multiple flexible venues.

Disneyland — which has been closed for nearly a year, costing Disney’s theme park division around $2.6 billion in lost operating income during the most recent quarter, and devastating the economies of Anaheim and Orange County — is set to reopen on April 30, while Universal Studios will resume operations (only to California residents) on April 16. Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia reopened on April 3 for the general public.

Variety will be tracking all major reopenings, including movie theaters, performance venues and indoor restaurants, and updating this list as more announcements are made.

Venues and Arenas

Hollywood Bowl and its sister amphitheater, The Ford, are both set to reopen for nearly full summer seasons in July.

Film at Lincoln Center reopens its doors on April 16. FLC’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center will open first, screening Azazel Jacobs’ “French Exit” and a new restoration of Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Mirror.”

Shakespeare in the Park: The cherished New York City tradition is set to return on July 6 with a reimagining of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” set in Harlem.

Daryl Roth Theatre: “Blindness” will soon be one of the first performances to open in New York City. The Donmar Warehouse production of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel, written by Tony winner Simon Stephens and directed by Walter Meierjohann, began performances on April 2 at the Daryl Roth Theatre.

The Shed: The new nonprofit arts center in Manhattan will launch “An Audience With…,” a five-night indoor performance series from April 2 to April 22. Performances will take place in The Shed’s 18,000-square-foot McCourt space that provides distanced seating for 150 people. The series opened with singer and cellist Kelsey Lu on April 2 and continues with musicians from the New York Philharmonic on April 14 and 15, soprano Renée Fleming on April 21, and comedian Michelle Wolf on April 22.

Restart Stages, which Launched on April 7 with a special performance for healthcare workers, is a new outdoor venue with 10 performance spaces that will help kickstart New York City’s performing arts sector. Part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative, Restart Stages will feature events by organizations from across the five boroughs. Activities, which will be held for free or at a low cost, include an outdoor reading room, civic and community service events, and family programming.

OpenStage NYC: Architecture and design firm Rockwell Group and Tait, which designs and constructs live events, have teamed up to create OpenStage NYC — a new initiative that utilizes portable staging to help arts organizations move to outdoor performances this spring that allow for 50-person, socially distanced audiences. The performance stages will utilize streets, plazas and other public spaces.

NY PopsUp: A new festival of pop-up events, overseen by producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal, will take place over 100 days throughout New York City and State, serving as a model to re-open flex venues — performance spaces that can be adapted in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Flex venues include The Apollo, Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Shed, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, National Black Theatre and The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater. In April, select Broadway theaters, beginning with the Music Box on 45th Street, will open with a series of special NY PopsUp programs. Confirmed festival performers include Hugh Jackman, Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mandy Patinkin and Billy Porter.

Movie Theaters

Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn is reopening on May 7, with distanced seating and a smaller food menu. Tickets go on sale starting on April 26.

Regal Cinemas reopened on April 2 with a limited release for “Godzilla vs. Kong” and a wider release planned for “Mortal Kombat” beginning on April 16.

The Paris Theater, the longest-running arthouse cinema in New York City that Netflix now operates, reopened at limited capacity (50 people) on March 19 with a 35mm engagement of “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

The below chains have resumed business in Los Angeles County:

  • AMC Theatres in Century City, Santa Monica and Burbank
  • Cinemark at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Westchester
  • Pacific Theaters in the Grove, Pacific Northridge Center, Americana Glendale
  • Landmark Theatres in Westwood
  • Regency Theatres in Van Nuys, Granada Hills, Agoura Hills


Festival Napa Valley‘s all-outdoor 15th season will take place from July 16 to July 25. The full program of events includes performances by Jennifer Hudson, Michael Fabiano, Roberto Bolle, Lisette Oropesa, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Nia Imani Franklin.

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival will take place from Sep. 2 to Sept. 5 on the Bonnaroo Farm in Manchester, Tenn. The event’s 20th anniversary edition will feature performances from Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Foo Fighters, Lana Del Rey, Tyler, the Creator, Janelle Monae, Tame Impala and others across more than 10 stages.

The Tribeca Film Festival will return as an in-person event for its 20th anniversary. Screenings and talks will be held from June 9 to June 20 across New York’s five boroughs, including at Brookfield Place New York, the Pier 57 rooftop, The Battery, Hudson Yards, Empire Outlets in Staten Island and MetroTech Commons in Brooklyn.

San Diego Comic-Con is returning over Thanksgiving weekend, from Nov. 26 to Nov. 28, with a “special edition” in-person gathering.

Amusement Parks

Universal Studios Hollywood will reopen (only to California residents) on April 16. Tickets went on sale on April 8.

Disneyland is set to reopen at 15% capacity on April 30. Rides such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the Incredicoaster and Peter Pan’s Flight will all reopen, while Fantasyland – Snow White’s Enchanted Wish will launch for the first time.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia will reopen on April 1 and 2 to members and pass holders, and on April 3 for the general public.


Los Angeles museums were given the go-ahead on March 15 to reopen indoors at 25% capacity. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art plans to reopen on April 1 with six new exhibitions on display. The Hammer Museum, meanwhile, eyes a mid-April return.


Musso & Frank Grill will open for dining room service on May 6. The venue will open to customers starting on May 10 at 5 p.m. as a part of its Mother’s Day celebration. Following the grand reopening, the venue’s operating hours will be 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 5-10 p.m. on Sunday.


The Los Angeles Unified School District and the union reached a tentative agreement that targets a mid-April return for preschool and elementary school children, and end of April for middle and high school students.

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