I live in Tennessee. Keith Dennie, one of my Low Key Podcast co-hosts, lives in Texas. And another, Tim Molloy, is in Massachusetts at the moment. On the latest Low Key, we talk about whether we would go to a movie theater now, in our respective states — and why.

You can listen on Apple, Spotify or right here:

When MovieMaker asked readers if they would return to theaters, the response was swift and nearly unanimous among those who replied: No.

“As an avid moviegoer and aspiring filmmaker, going to the movies in the summer is one of the most cherished things I like to do,” one commenter wrote. “I hate that I can’t do it now where I am in Texas, but I will not ignore this disease and how it’s spreading. I don’t know that I would go to a theater right now, nor bring my son and wife… I would need iron clad guarantees for safety -and we can’t even really get that for the disease overall, anyway.”

This episode of Low Key doesn’t have miracle solutions. But we can offer our firsthand experiences in three very different states with three different approaches to reopening. Things are changing so fast that we recorded this episode on Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had backed away from Texas’ reopening  plan and started urging people to stay home.

Texas isn’t alone: Many states are rethinking their reopening plans as COVID-19 cases surge nationwide.  Like many businesses, large movie theater chains are inching closer to bankruptcy. And digital-first releases have become an unforeseen necessity. There is no roadmap for businesses on surviving the pandemic.

Our talk about when and how we would go back to a movie theater is wide-ranging and more fun than you’d probably expect. It includes our thoughts on the current state of movie theaters, why contact tracing is especially hard for strip-club customers, and why you shouldn’t sit next to Keith on a plane.

Don’t forget to follow Low Key on Instagram and subscribe to catch the latest episodes. In fact, here’s a preview of the episode we posted on Instagram:


Here are highlights of the episode, with timestamps:

1:25 – How our states (Texas, Tennessee, and Massachusetts) are handling COVID-19.

5:03 – AMC’s plan for reopening theaters during COVID-19

13:28 – Public bathrooms pre and post COVID-19

16:23 – Strip clubs reopen, with some issues

20:00 – Movie studios make more money by going digital first

22:20 – Appreciating the theater experience

28:22 – COVID-19 may be around well beyond 2020

32:46 – “Would you go see Tenet in a theater?”

38:00 – Bad airplane etiquette