Coolidge Corner Theater reopening plays major role in returning to normalcy



The Coolidge Corner Theater, a staple of the Brookline community, recently reopened with reduced capacity for movies and other featured projections.

Nick Lazzaro, Head Projectionist and COVID-19 Compliance Regulator at the Coolidge Corner Theater, peeks into Showroom One and smiles as he sees familiar faces engrossed in the movie “Frances Ha,” their eyes glued to the screen.

The Coolidge Corner Theater, a staple attraction in Brookline, has recently reopened to the public at reduced capacity for movie showings. With protocols in place in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, visiting the theater has proven to be an enjoyable, heartwarming and exciting experience, leaving patrons optimistic for the future.

Prior to this phased reopening, the theater had been open for private parties to rent out the smaller showrooms. Now, with the larger showrooms open for screenings and the theater full of protective plexiglass, employees have been hard at work to ensure visitors the best experience possible.

Lazzaro said the theater opening would help simplify how the theater operates.

“Having some sort of routine and regular operation means I can focus on all the other things on the administrative side versus having to respond to all the different changes in our restrictions and all the management of our private rentals, which is so much to keep track of,” Lazzaro said.

Executive Director and CEO Katherine Tallman said change can be difficult.

“The one thing that we all know we need to do is be patient and understand that people are going to be frustrated and don’t like change, and we all have to remember that people are a little on edge,” Tallman said. “It’s a big change for everybody.”

According to Brianna Conley, who watched “Francis Ha” at the theater on May 16, the ambiance of the theater allowed her to see past all the protocols in place.

“Even though we had to wear masks, I still felt like I could enjoy the movie and I think it’s because we’re so used to wearing masks now that I didn’t mind,” Conley said.

The theater is keeping all of its unique touches in the hopes of continuing to transport viewers into the movie watching experience. Tallman said that their preservation of a movie theater feeling contributes positively to the overall experience for visitors.

“It’s still going to have all the presentations people associated with us, with the curtain opening, and the stage lights and all that sort of finesse to the show,” Tallman said. “When the lights go down, you get engrossed in the movie and forget that there’s a pandemic out there. You’re hopefully just sucked into the moment and when you emerge in this daylight, it’s that fun, familiar feeling of remembering going to the movies.”

Kyler Murray, who also viewed “Francis Ha,” said she loved being able to watch a movie outside of her house.

“It was a really nice experience. We’ve been watching a lot of movies at home, so it was nice to have it be completely dark and just be able to focus on the movie,” Murray said.

According to Lazzaro, he has missed experiencing the audience’s shared emotions while watching movies.

“[Having smaller rentals] is not quite the same as being with a whole audience that’s laughing and gasping and doing whatever is happening at the same time, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing that myself and sharing that experience with other people,” Lazzaro said.

Tallman said that there has been a lot of enthusiasm around the reopening and has received support from frequent patrons.

“I know people are so excited to come back to a movie theater. We get notes all the time from people who have been so supportive and who can’t wait to come back,” Tallman said.

Lazzaro said he looks forward to seeing many returning visitors who view the theater as a second home.

“The audiences are always welcoming new people, but I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of those familiar faces, a lot of people sit in the exact same seat every time so you know where to look,” Lazzaro said. “The majority of people who come to the Coolidge have been coming there for years, so it feels like home to them.”