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Normal Theater To Re-Open Oct. 1 With Shorts Festival, Halloween Favorites

Normal theater exterior
Ryan Denham
The Normal Theater will reopen for in-person film screenings starting Oct. 1.

After being closed for six months due to the pandemic, the Normal Theater will reopen for in-person film screenings starting Oct. 1.

Things will be a little different, of course. Masks will be required at all times. There will be no concessions. And there will be assigned seating, using only 50 of the theater’s 400 seats.

The Uptown theater offers an “important escape for many members of our community,” said Adam Fox, Civic Arts Manager for the Town of Normal.

“As we look forward to the rest of the year, and we start to figure out what our holiday programming looks like, (patrons should) know that we’re not abandoning any of the things that have made the theater what it is and what you’ve come to love. We just need to figure out how to do that in this current landscape,” Fox said.

Marcus Theatres and AMC multiplexes recently reopened their Bloomington-Normal locations, coinciding with the release of the summer blockbuster “Tenet.” But multiplexes face an uncertain future; studios generally don’t want to release big movies if not all theaters are open, and theaters that don’t want to open with having new movies.

The Normal Theater isn’t caught in that same stalemate, Fox said.

“We’re actually very fortunate in what we do, because we show repertory classics, films that people know and have loved and have maybe never had a chance to see on the big screen. And we show those independent films, those smaller releases, those films that won’t necessarily be picked up by the multiplexes across the country but that deserve an audience, deserve to be screened and seen as they were intended by the filmmaker,” Fox said.

The Normal Theater will reopen with the 2020 edition of the Manhattan Short Film Festival, with shows at 7 p.m. Oct. 1-4, and at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4. Following that, the theater will begin the run-up to Halloween with all-ages favorites such as “Beetlejuice” “Labyrinth,” annual traditions like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and new release independent horror titles.

“I have no idea what a physically distanced, limited capacity ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ looks like. I’m kind of excited to find out, right?” Fox said. “It’s gonna be unique, and we’re really excited to provide those opportunities to people.”

The theater will only accept payment by card (no cash), to reduce risk of transmission.

The theater continues to offer online screenings to serve patrons not yet comfortable returning to in-person screenings. To view available online screening titles, visit

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.