EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Last April, while movie theaters across the state were closed due to COVID-19, the Aurora Theatre put the message “Closed- I’ll Be Back” on its marquee.

The vintage theater is making good on the Terminator-themed promise- reopening with a special series of classic, independent, and throwback films.

The series is happening at a time when first-run movie releases are limited.

“We just had this opportunity in the film schedule since new releases are coming out very slowly right now,” Aurora Theatre owner Lynn Kinsella said. “We wanted to have some fun with the reopening- we’re 95 years old, so let’s show some movies that have been shown over the 95 years.”

The TIC (throwback, independent, and classic) Film Series kicked off Friday with two Steven Spielberg blockbusters- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park.

The series was the brainchild of two local film enthusiasts- Jackson Gavin, a screenwriter who has been working at the Aurora Theatre intermittently since high school, and actor James Arone.

It will include movies like “To Kill A Mockingbird” with Gregory Peck, and “The Sting” with Paul Newman.

“A whole new generation of people are going to see these older movies the way they’re meant to be seen,” Gavin said. “The response has been pretty cool- people are excited to see movies they’ve never seen before.

“Younger audiences, older audiences- when you’re in that theater and you’re sitting in the dark and that moment of magic happens- there’s nothing else like it,” Arone said.

Safety measures are in place at the theater- masks are required unless guests are seated and eating. There are hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the building, and every other row of the 600-seat theater is blocked off.

“There will be lots of room between guests,” Kinsella said.

The theater was shut down for almost ten months due to New York’s pandemic regulations.

“It was a lot of time- a loss of a tremendous amount of revenue,” Kinsella said. “Our community has been with us every step of the way, and we’re committed to get to the other side of the pandemic to see what we can do.”

Watching movies in movie theaters is an experience many may have taken for granted before the shutdown.

“This past year, people have been really struggling- isolated in lockdown,” Arone said. “It’s a communal experience to sit in a movie theater and watch these great stories being told with some of these wonderful, iconic actors.”

“People are really excited to get back to the movies,” Kinsella added. “I had a family who came in the other day with a little four-year-old girl, and it was her first movie. That’s really nice- families are coming back.”

You can buy tickets to the TIC series online or at the Aurora Theater box office.

For more information, click here.