ITHACA, N.Y.—Ithaca’s beloved downtown independent movie theater, Cinemapolis, will be reopening its doors on a limited basis, taking reservations for private movie parties.

Starting on March 12, 2021, the downtown theater will launch a Private Movie Party program, allowing people to reserve one of the facility’s five screening rooms to enjoy their favorite film with up to 15 guests. Certain concession stand items will be available to pre-order 24 hours in advance of the reservation—yes, including the popcorn.

Rates will be $250 for up to 2.5 hours, though that drops to $200 for Cinemapolis members. Reservations may now be made at Cinemapolis.org.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, the theater has “instituted enhanced health and safety protocols aligned with the CinemaSafe program to ensure that these parties comply with all state and local guidelines for a safe return to the movies.” Those include improved air filtration, enhanced fresh air intake for each room’s HVAC system, frequent surface disinfection, complete disinfection of each screening room before and after use, and hand sanitizing stations. All staff and guests will be required to wear face masks when entering the building, and guests who are in the same pod may sit closer than six feet apart—though they are asked to maintain six feet of separation from staff. Once seated, guests may remove their masks.

These include improved air filtration and fresh air intake for each theater’s isolated HVAC system, frequent disinfection of “high touch” surfaces, complete disinfection of each screening room before and after each use, and hand sanitizing stations throughout the cinema. Additionally, all staff and guests will be required to wear face masks when entering the building. Party guests in the same pod may be seated closer than 6 feet in the theater, but attendees are asked to keep 6 ft of distance while interacting with staff.  Party goers may only remove face coverings when seated and enjoying concessions in their screening room. The famous Cinemapolis popcorn will be available, but all concession purchases must be preordered to reduce face-to-face contact with cinema staff.

In a press release, Executive Director Brett Bossard said “After almost exactly a year of being closed in response to the pandemic, our entire staff is eager to dip our toes back into the water and offer up this very safe option for our Cinemapolitans to enjoy movies the way they were meant to be seen—on the big screen.”


He also noted that the bathrooms have been renovated and now feature automated fixtures.

“For the first month of the program, party hosts must provide their own Blu-ray or DVD to screen,” according to the release. “Negotiations are underway to add a rotating selection of newly released films as an option in future months. Pending updates to state guidelines for movie theaters and the return to a regular release schedule of new films, Cinemapolis will re-open for regularly scheduled public screenings at some point this summer.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com