“Danger, Hard Hat Area” is not the name of a coming attraction.

But it was the sign on the front door of the AMC12 Theatres on Maple Avenue in Evanston, the day before the movie house is supposed to start showing films again.

Otherwise, there’s nothing else indicating the long-awaited replacement for the closed Cinemark Theater is about to start welcoming customers, unless you consider an AMC banner on the marquee indicative of a grand opening.

However, a corporate news release on Tuesday stated that “AMC Evanston 12 … will officially open its doors for guests beginning Wednesday, Nov. 9.”

It may be BYOP, Bring Your Own Popcorn, for awhile. The concession stand is still being renovated, which, AMC says, “when complete, will also include a MacGuffins adult beverage concept.”

Even though the opening is low key, it’s still a big deal.

The February 2020 shutdown of Cinemark, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, took a lot of life — and people spending money — out of downtown.

AMC became the new theater operator.

Even though AMC is downsizing from Cinemark’s 18 screens to 12, the theater is a key component of the revitalizing Church Street Plaza, and will no doubt add customers and shoppers for nearby stores and restaurants.

In the news release, Dan Ellis, AMC’s chief operations and development officer, says, “With the holiday movie season about to ramp up, and with some of the most anticipated movies of the year about to hit movie theatres,” it’s a perfect time to open.

Annie Coakley, executive director of the Downtown Evanston marketing group, says AMC wanted to “open before the holiday rush.”

The concession stand is on the way, and Coakley says even without Raisinettes or Sno-Caps (okay, she didn’t really use candy names, but it’s still the point), “I for one am so happy to have them open again.”

Information about what’s showing at the reopened theater is available online.

But to look at the entry doors, it just looks like a double feature: “Danger, Hard Hat Area,” and the sequel, “Danger, Construction Area, Keep Out.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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