The Nickelodeon on Main Street has been the heart of Columbia’s film-loving community since it opened in 1979, and it continues to provide its members and patrons with indie films through virtual screening rooms during the pandemic.
The popular theater canceled all in-person showings starting in March, when COVID-19 temporarily shut down many public spaces. Virtual screening rooms are a new way for film lovers to enjoy The Nick’s selection of indie films.
”We do have our virtual screening rooms open so that patrons and members can go online to Nickelodeon.org and they can select films to watch from the comfort of their own home,” said Shanel Jackson, the Nickelodeon’s director of operations and membership.
Tickets for these screening rooms are about the same price as a normal movie ticket.
Indie and foreign films can be difficult to find online and in other theaters. Executive director Anita Floyd said she advises people to view the curated films The Nickelodeon offers in the virtual screening rooms, “rather than you having to kind of scroll through Netflix until you’re blind.”
Founded by University of South Carolina students, The Nickelodeon is known for its community-based entertainment and unique film options.
According to Floyd, The Nick is the "only nonprofit independent art house cinema in the state."
The theater also offers curated series, including films that address political or social issues. Floyd said they choose series that will "stimulate conversations" within the community.
Jillian Peltzman, a Nickelodeon customer and actress in the area, said she goes to The Nick for its selection of films.
”If you want to see that movie that everybody in Manhattan has been talking about, then that's where you have to go,” Peltzman said.
The Nick is member-based, so it has gathered a growing crowd of regulars since its opening.
”In my opinion, The Nickelodeon has a personal feel,” Jackson said. “Our staff at The Nickelodeon generally know all of our regular movie-goer families.”
When The Nick reopens, it will be with extensive safety precautions to maintain social distancing. Jackson said they have already begun implementing the COVID-19 reopening initiative.
The reopening initiative involves guests pre-ordering tickets, a cashless system, concessions ordered through an app and a six-foot distancing policy within the theater and in the commons area.
“I miss our patrons and members,” Jackson said.
According to Jackson, the staff will avoid any interactions with patrons and members.
Film fans agree there is a special element to viewing films in a theater with others as opposed to watching them from home, according to Peltzman.
”At the heart of it, storytelling is a communal experience,” Floyd said.
To find out more about what’s playing next in the virtual screening rooms and updates on reopening, visit The Nickelodeon website.