Fitchburg theater closes down

New Jersey-based New Vision Theater IMAX is closed its 18 nationwide locations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — including Fitchburg’s.

Fitchburg residents and visitors itching to watch new films on the big screen need no longer travel far.

That’s because the 6091 McKee Road theater building, which sat vacant for around a year, has reopened with a new name. On June 4, theater giant AMC Entertainment resurrected and rebranded the former New Vision Theatres Fitchburg IMAX 18+ space as AMC Fitchburg 18.

The reopening comes as the film industry recovers from an unprecedented year of venue closures, movie delays and budget shortfalls related to COVID-19. But as positive cases decrease and vaccinations rise, catching a matinee or evening motion picture can again be a safe pastime.

Guests attending the theater can now experience an “unparalleled AMC screen experience” featuring the company’s “signature” recliners and the space’s IMAX, according to a news release from AMC. They can also choose from various menu options, including sodas, popcorn and other concessions, the release states. For guests 21 and up, there are a variety of beers and wines available. But some menu selections have been temporarily reduced to minimize wait times, the release states.

Even though Public Health Madison and Dane County lifted all social distancing and mask restrictions June 2, the theater will still follow some health protocols, the release states.

When guests purchase their tickets online or at the theater location, surrounding seats are automatically blocked to help ensure proper social distancing, according to the release.

Theater-goers can also clean their hands at sanitizing stations throughout the space, including by the restrooms and in the food and beverage area. Though, masks won’t be required for fully vaccinated guests, the release states.

But in accordance with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, people who have not received COVID-19 shots must wear a face covering.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, theater staff will follow cleaning policies, the release states.

Every auditorium will be cleaned between each showtime, with fixtures sanitized as well. AMC Entertainment has also upgraded its air filtration systems, according to the release.

And all high-touch areas, including door handles, service counters, rails and restroom fixtures are routinely cleansed, the release states, along with self-service machines.

Previous owner New Vision Theatres filed for bankruptcy and closed the theater in March 2020 after pandemic-related financial struggles. The company’s Fitchburg location was one of 18 it owned across nine states before the closures, previous Star reporting states.

New Vision originally acquired the theater in April 2017 from AMC, according to previous Star reporting from August 2020. The company was created that same month by the Beekman Group of New Jersey to purchase 16 other theaters across the United States. The sale of the Fitchburg location had been prompted by AMC’s purchase of Sundance Cinemas and adherence to federal antitrust laws against forming monopolies.

Five years ago, AMC completed a multimillion-dollar remodel of the Fitchburg theater, which included reclining seats and a bar area in the lobby.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.

Emilie Heidemann joined Wisconsin Media Group in 2018, where she serves as the community and business editor for four publications, as well as a quarterly magazine. Emilie covers the Village of Oregon and Fitchburg community beat.