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Riverstone businesses grateful for reopening of Regal movie theater

The closure of Regal Riverstone in March 2020 shaped the landscape of both the Riverstone district and how local consumers watched movies.
Stock image of movie theater. Credit: Thinkstock

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Movie fans, today's a good day.

You can almost smell the popcorn from here.

“Regal is proud to announce three theaters in your coverage area will open this Friday, May 7,” Regal spokesperson Richard Glover said in a statement Thursday. “Guy Ritchie’s 'Wrath of Man' will headline new movies, including 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Godzilla vs. Kong,' along with a full slate of additional titles. Future releases opening in the coming weeks include 'A Quiet Place Part II' and 'F9'.”

The closure of Regal Riverstone in March 2020, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, shaped the landscape of both the Riverstone district and how local consumers watch movies.

When Regal abruptly closed its Riverstone doors, many local businesses expressed concern that the draw that attracted foot traffic to the area had suddenly disappeared.

Regal Riverstone briefly reopened after the once skyrocketing July COVID case count dwindled, but the theater closed again last October as cases rose.

Meanwhile, as Regal remained closed, its closest competition — Hayden Discount Cinema in Hayden — stayed open in some capacity throughout the pandemic, scaling down to private groups and drive-up popcorn sales before innovating to drive-in outdoor screens and eventually acquiring first-run rights. That spurred its metamorphosis to drop the “Discount” moniker to its current iteration, Hayden Cinema.

As Regal began over the winter a gradual campaign promising to eventually return to some semblance of normal, online chatter from local moviegoers and insiders hinted at the theater’s possible return, but seldom without a firm date.

Many speculated the Coeur d’Alene theater would open with "Godzilla vs. Kong," then with "Mortal Kombat," then with "Dragon Slayer." But as those movies opened, Regal remained dark.

Now, those same fans are chattering up their excitement, as Regal Riverstone’s website has tickets for today’s shows listed for sale.

“I thought they went out of business for good,” one customer wrote on Facebook. “Glad to hear they’re back.”

“Staaaaaaaaatham coming to CDA,” another cheered, referencing Jason Statham, the star of "Wrath of Man."

Other Riverstone businesses are cheering, as well.

“I’m very, very excited,” said Izzy Epps at Bear Paw Cookies’ Riverstone location Thursday afternoon upon learning of Regal’s return. “The theater was a really big draw to Riverstone. Them leaving, I think it hurt a lot of businesses. I know a lot of our business is just people who walk by, and now they have another reason to walk by, especially after the movies or on their way to the movies.”

Kade Reidt, shift lead at Cold Stone Creamery right next door to the theater, said having Regal Riverstone open back up will only help the ice cream shop.

“Having the movie theater open up will definitely regulate our rushes throughout the day,” Reidt said. “Having that predictability will help: Everyone goes to the movies, then they get their ice cream, and two hours later, it will start again.”

Reidt said the Riverstone Cold Stone Creamery has actually thrived during the pandemic, as Washingtonians have flocked east to get their ice cream fix. But, she added, having a reliable stream of foot traffic will help.

“It will be nice to have that sense of normal again,” she said Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours before Regal opens its doors once again. “Like I said, everyone goes to the movies.”

The Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.