COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Soon the popcorn will be popping, the soda machine streaming fizzy drinks, and people sitting in red seats anticipating the music.
The Drexel Theatre in Bexley first opened in 1935 and closed on March 15, 2020, during the pandemic. On Thursday, May 27, it will re-open.
For 14 months, moviegoers sat at home with bags of microwave popcorn and kept the Drexel alive by watching virtual screenings and buying Drexel memberships.
Jeremy Henthorn, Drexel Theatre Director, took closure as an opportunity to renovate the HVAC system and put on a new roof, with a new screen to follow in its largest theatre.
“The great thing about the Drexel, and the great thing about being part of a larger community, was the community supported us,” Henthorn said. “And when we closed down, the amount of gift cards, memberships, donations they gave to the theatre, virtual screenings… That was the biggest thing that kept the Drexel afloat.”
Bring ‘The Room’ back
From Thursday, you can see Dream Horse, Minari, A Quiet Place II, and Nomadland. Also coming back will be cult classic, “The Room.”
“We’ve been playing “The Room” since a year after its premiere and its been playing in the Drexel for 12 years. During the pandemic, it was probably one of our last shows that we ended up doing before we closed. It’s always popular. We do it at 11:59 the second Saturday every month.
“When we did announce the re-opening, there were a lot of questions we thought we were going to get. The biggest question that we got is, ‘When is this guy coming back,’ and, ‘When are we going to put it in the theatre.’ And we are working on it, no date official, but yes, he will be coming back to his normal midnight show,” Henthorn assured.
Independent film festival in the works
Exciting for filmmakers is also a project in the works with CAPA: a citywide, independent film festival.
“We were working on something with CAPA called Cinema Columbus, which was going to be an extremely large citywide film festival,” Henthorn said. “We had just started taking submissions. We had just started talking with filmmakers who we were going to bring in, what we were going to do. Of course, a large event like that couldn’t take place — that would have been summer 2020.
“That’s still in the works. We are going to do it again, and frankly, the time we had gave us time to refine it. Anyone can submit. That’s part of the fun of an independent film festival: Everyone gets a shot at getting in,” Henthorn said.
Ticketing & safety
Drexel screenings will be at quarter capacity, and showtimes staggered to limit congestion. Employees will wear masks, and guests must wear masks unless taking a bite or a sip. Pre-purchase the tickets. If you don’t, there will be contactless payment at the theatre. Groups of 10 or fewer can be seated together.