Curtain to rise on movies again at Grey Duck

Rochester's microcinema movie theater will re-open on Friday with showings of "E.T." at 25 percent capacity, to audiences of 15.

Heard on the Street - Jeff Kiger column sig
We are part of The Trust Project.

After a long pandemic intermission, Rochester’s microcinema is getting ready to raise the curtain to show movies.

Andy and Anna Smith are working to get their ducks in a row to re-open Gray Duck Theater on Friday with a showing of the classic “E.T.”

“Studios aren’t really releasing movies right now, so we thought we’d start with some retro summer blockbusters,” said Andy Smith . “We’re starting in the '80s.”

Limited to running at 25 percent capacity, 15 tickets will be sold for each showing. The movie theater, at 619 Sixth Ave. NW, normally has 66 seats to fill. The Smiths have removed many of the seats and rearranged the theater to allow for social distancing.

Tickets will be sold online at and in person.


Theater staff will be wearing face masks and following Olmsted County’s guidelines for doing business during the time of COVID-19. Movie-goers are encouraged to wear masks.

“We’re just really excited to open up and have people in the theater for the first time in weeks.” said Smith.

Gray Duck is expecting to show its first new post-quarantine film, the timely John Lewis documentary “Good Trouble,” on July 3, going into the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The other half of Gray Duck, a coffee shop, has been serving curbside since May 1. After re-opening, there will be 25 percent of coffee shop seating inside and some sidewalk seating.

Many people have been sitting at home and binging TV for weeks, what is the value of gathering, even in a limited way, to watch movies the old-fashioned way?

“I think this is an opportunity for people to see the limits of watching things like Netflix or Hulu at home. Films are better experienced in community,” said Smith, “I’II think there is a desire to get out and to enjoy a film in a cinema, which is a much different experience than watching at home.”

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

EMBED: Jeff Pieters 'Sunrise Rochester' newsletter signup

What to read next
Columnist Kristen Asleson says she believes so much in letting go of what she cannot control, she had a reminder tattooed on her left shoulder blade.
Ryan Stock never sought to become a martial arts instructor, the opportunities to teach always fell in his lap over the years to where he is now.
New episodes are published weekly on Fridays.
Austin McCoy and Kyle Hooten talked about starting a company together while competing as a debate pair for Century High School. Today, they run Artemis Labs with software engineer Manvir Singh and are in partnership with Y Combinator.