Marcus Theatre cinemas in Fargo made their long-awaited return on Friday, Aug. 21.

The news was announced via Marcus Theatres website as of Tuesday, Aug. 18. Both West Acres and Century cinemas, part of the Marcus Theaters chain, are expected to reopen.

The movie theaters have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the movies will look the same, the experience will be different due to new safety procedures.

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Social distancing, mask wearing, and routine disinfection will be the new normal.

Advance ticket and concessions sales are both available via the theatre’s website or mobile app, offering a low-contact alternative to in-person transactions. Face masks will be required by all patrons, except when eating or drinking.

“Reserved seating allows groups to sit together,” according to the Marcus Theatres website. “Capacity is limited and there will be two empty seats between groups for proper social distancing.”

A methodical disinfecting process will occur after every movie, and restroom attendants will be present “to disinfect and encourage social distancing,” according to the website.

Touchless faucets, soap dispensers and towel dispensers will also be installed.

Associates will undergo a wellness check prior to their shift, wear face masks and gloves “when appropriate,” and patrons can expect an increased frequency of cleaning, especially high-touch surfaces.

Plexiglass will be located in various transactional areas, and hand sanitizer will also be available throughout the facility.

Rick Solarski, manager of West Acres Cinema, said the reopening is a welcome relief. The shutdown has put thousands out of work, and the moviegoing public on hold, over the last few months.

"We're excited to be able to run movies again," Solarski said.

Over the past month, six Marcus Theatres locations across the nation have piloted the new safety procedures, he said, and feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

The new social distancing precautions, however, have had an effect on capacity.

Seating capacity went from 2,060 down to 660 at West Acres Cinema, which has 14 screens, Solarski said. Century Cinema, which has 10 screens, shrank from 852 to 464 seats.

First-run movies will be normal admission prices, he said, but second-run "library titles" will be $5. Additionally, on Wednesday, Aug. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. the first 125 visitors will get a family bag of popcorn and a free movie pass.

"You don't even have to see a movie," Solarski said. "It's just to generate awareness of the fact we're open."

For more information, as well as movie listings, visit www.marcustheatres.com/theatre-locations/west-acres-cinema-fargo and www.marcustheatres.com/theatre-locations/century-cinema-fargo