Guggenheim Entertainment, operator of 3Below Theaters in Downtown San Jose, has a message for movie fans: It’s time to return to theaters! After over a year of being shuttered, theaters around the country are welcoming guests back to the movies.
As Downtown San Jose’s only movie theater, 3Below Theater is ready to welcome moviegoers for summer blockbusters like In The Heights and Black Widow as well as award-winning independent films, classic and retro movies, and later this year, the return of their wildly popular sing-along cinema experiences.
3Below is also home to San Jose Playhouse, the producers’ newly dubbed professional live theatre company. Live entertainment including musicals, theater for young audiences, classes, community programming, and ComedySportz is expected to reopen in September 2021.
Reopening 3Below for movies is a significant milestone for Downtown San Jose as it resumes normal operation after the COVID-19 pandemic slowed its entertainment and nightlife industries for more than a year. 3Below has a major part to play because of its history as a vital piece of downtown San Jose’s entertainment destinations. “We are committed to doing all we can to stay alive,” reports producer and film programmer, Scott Guggenheim. “It has been terrifically challenging to stay positive and imagine a time when entertainment will fully reopen but with so much invested in the venue since its reimagining in 2018, we owe it to ourselves, our team, and our supporters to press on. We also feel we owe it to our community. The residents of Downtown San Jose and our friends and fans in neighboring communities deserve a unique entertainment destination like 3Below, and with the venue’s long history – opening in 1984 and still going strong – the venue deserves to be celebrated and attended for years to come.”
With vaccines readily available and restrictions loosening nationwide, studios have begun releasing long-delayed titles, resulting in hours of summer movie entertainment filling up the roster. Though still the only South Bay location to enjoy independent, art, foreign, and documentary films like “Queen Bees”, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”, and “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”, 3Below is also adding new releases to the schedule like “Here Today”, “Cruella”, “In the Heights”, “Black Widow”, “Jungle Cruise”, “Stillwater”, “Respect”, and the highly anticipated “The Beatles: Get Back” by filmmaker Peter Jackson.
The cafe in the 3Below lobby has also had a facelift, not only to its decor but to the menu. Guests will enjoy a wider range of freshly-made food and beverages to enjoy before, during, or after events. The eatery features gourmet hot dogs, meat and veggie skewers, waffle desserts, gourmet coffee, and beer and wine; vegan and gluten free options available. Validated parking is provided for the parking garage located above the theaters.
As eager as everyone is to return to “normal”, 3Below’s team is fully aware that many are being cautious before venturing out. 3Below’s operations manager, Sherrol Simard, wants fans to know, “We will continue to enforce a number of safety protocols – known as ‘CinemaSafe’ – in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep guests and employees healthy. We encourage guests to order tickets online in advance to minimize standing in lines or handling paper tickets. We are still limiting each auditorium to 50% capacity. Guests and employees are required to wear face masks at all times in the lobby and in the theaters, only removing them to eat or drink. When refilling popcorn and drinks, your cup or bucket will be exchanged for a new one.” A page dedicated to Covid-19 Patron Guidelines can be found on 3Below’s website.
The producers at 3Below hope the community will once again look at the venue as a “third place.” Producer Shannon Guggenheim understands “many people have been isolating at home for the better part of fourteen months and might be looking for a place to be other than home and work. We invite you to make 3Below your ‘third place’ and come hang out in our lobby to enjoy the ambience, great tunes, and the tabletop arcade game station. It’s a place to do homework, use the free WiFi while sipping on our homemade lemonade. And it’s where to spend an evening with the family watching a new movie and sharing a meal before taking some premium Italian gelato to go.”
3Below closed the theater doors in mid-March 2020 and furloughed nearly all of its employees. All live productions and classes were cancelled/postponed. With theaters closed worldwide, movie studios delayed releases to 2021 or released to streaming services. These tough decisions have made it doubly difficult for a small theater to stay open. Even with the highly enjoyable “Up on the Roof” festival presented with the San Jose Downtown Association in October 2020, and a brief Oscar FilmFest in April, the amount of people who were willing to face a pandemic to catch a film was small. The Guggenheims hope patrons will look forward to returning to theaters to see some great films this summer. “We hope you will choose our family-operated, locally-owned venue as your location of choice to go back to the movies.”
Visit 3BelowTheaters.com to see what’s now playing and coming soon, as well as get information on job opportunities in the 3Below box office and cafe.