Gunnedah cinema-goers have a lot to look forward to when curtains open at the Civic Cinema on Thursday.
Following the closure of the complex due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Civic has undergone a full refurbishment, with fresh carpeting and seats, updated LED lighting, a new candy bar counter and the installation of a hearing loop for the cinema and live theatre.
A photo-montage memory wall featuring more than 350 Gunnedah faces now greets patrons from behind the candy bar, highlighting memorable past moments at the cultural precinct.
Gunnedah Shire Council cultural precinct team leader Lauren Mackley is looking forward to seeing visitors return to the cinema to enjoy the new features.
"We are thrilled to welcome everyone back at the Civic with a fresh new space. There's a new popcorn machine, the seats are even more comfortable and settling into a good film is the perfect way to escape to another world for a couple of hours," she said.
"We have implemented some changes to keep everyone CovidSafe, with an increased cleaning regimen, social distancing allowances and hand sanitising stations in place.
"Cinema-goers will be asked to provide contact details to help with contract tracing and with altered capacity limits we are encouraging pre-bookings to avoid disappointment when arriving for a screening."
It's mostly to be business as usual, but choc top lovers will have to be patient, as they are unable to be sold at the moment.
"We're not selling choc tops because of how we prepare them, there's too much exposure for COVID contamination," Ms Mackley said.
"We're refraining from that and researching where we can get them done elsewhere to have them done in a really safe and controlled area."
The first week's screenings at the cinema include Made in Italy and the new Christopher Nolan film, Tenet and as staff find their feet in the new world of COVID, more screenings will occur.
"Some of the upcoming titles include 23 Walks, Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace, The Secret Garden and Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs," Ms Mackley said.
"With school holidays not far away there are some highly anticipated films coming in October, including Trolls and Paw Patrol: Jet to the Rescue."
Seating will be restricted to 36 patrons, so community members are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance in person at the cinema during opening hours Tuesday - Sunday, or over the phone on (02) 6742 0633.
Patrons will need to sit two seats apart from each other, and there will be a spare row between each seated row, too.
A revamped website for the Gunnedah Cultural Precinct will be launched next Wednesday, September 23 for online ticket reservations. Visit www.thecivic.com.au for more information.