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A murmur of excitement rolled through the area’s movie-going community, long in coronavirus limbo, when word came out early Saturday afternoon that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had just announced that theaters throughout the state – umm, except you, New York City -- could reopen as of this Friday.

The news seemed to catch everyone by surprise. Then reality hit: Restarting an industry is not as simple as firing up the popcorn machine and hitting the projector “on” switch.

Office of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

NEW YORK (AP & WXXI News)  Movie theaters in New York state can reopen beginning next Friday with restrictions on audience size and other precautions in place, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

Theaters in New York City aren't included, and counties must have a positivity rate below 2% on a 14-day average and have no "cluster zones." Other counties where theaters cannot reopen yet include Allegany, Broome and Steuben.

Audiences will be restricted to 25% of capacity with a maximum of 50 people per screen, Cuomo said at his briefing.

It's all things Star WarsEpisode IX: The Rise of Skywalker opened in theaters Thursday night, and we're joined by fans of the franchise to discuss their expectations for the newest and final film in the saga (don't worry, there won't be spoilers!).

We talk about a range of issues, including how to balance critical and artistic choices while keeping fans' interests in mind, the use of archival footage to bring back characters played by deceased actors, and our guests' thoughts on what it would take to stick the landing for the saga.

In studio:

WATCH: 2017 Oscars preview with Jack Garner

Feb 21, 2017

It was semi-retired renowned film critic and writer, Jack Garner, who said: “I’ve been on top of Mount Everest. I’ve flown around Big Ben with Peter Pan...and I’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan.” Garner says movies have the power to transport us to places we never imagined we could see or visit. And he says the key to a worthwhile journey for the movie-watcher is all about originality of ideas in the film. With the Academy Awards right around the corner, Jack Garner joins this segment of Need to Know to share his thoughts on the nominated films this year and the ones you must-see before Oscar night on Sunday, February 26.

Hollywood is reviving three franchises this year. Their track record makes them a guaranteed financial success, but is it what fans want? Star Wars, X Files, and Full House are coming back in some fashion, with new stories based on the old characters. Even Han Solo and Chewbacca are back. Our panel debates whether these are good moves:

  • Christopher Frank, organizer of local sci-fi convention "Flower City Comic Con"
  • Mike DiGiorgio, executive producer of 13WHAM News This Morning
  • Jack Garner, Film Critic and Author 

Movie Critic Jack Garner joins us to preview the 87th Academy Awards, which will be awarded on Sunday, February 22. We will give significant attention to Best Picture nominee "American Sniper". 

The High Falls Film Festival starts next week. The festival celebrates women in film, one of the few worldwide that does so. We start the hour with Virginia Madsen, she produced a film that will be shown at the festival. Then, we discuss the festival in-depth with the festival's Executive Director Mary Manard Reed.