Cinemas remain closed for Phase 3
Cinemagoers who hoped to enjoy a blockbuster on the big screen will have to wait a few more weeks.
For, although cinemas are now allowed to open at 20 per cent capacity as part of Phase 3 of a four-stage return to normal life, Specialty Cinema and the Liberty Theatre will not hold public screenings until next month.
Giovanna Easton, the owner of Specialty Cinema, said they made the decision to hold off on reopening because of the limited capacity and a lack of new movies.
Ms Easton said: “There are no big movies being released until July, so when we have a maximum capacity of 20 per cent and no new movies, it's just not worth it.
“The first big blockbuster movie is Tenet, which opens on July 17, by which point we hope to be in Phase 4 and have a much higher capacity.
“We intend to open for that, and then the next week we have Disney's Mulan, which was supposed to come out in March but was delayed until July 24 because of Covid-19.”
She added that much of the revenue from ticket sales goes back towards film companies in the form of royalty fees and the cost of running the air conditioning in theatres was significant.
Ms Easton said: “As a business owner, you have to really factor in the costs of the business and the cost of the staff and hope that whatever you have left is enough for you to pay your bills.
“We also need to think about the safety of our staff.”
Ms Easton added: “Right now, they are safe, but once you start to open things up you increase their level of exposure.”
Ms Easton said the extra time would also allow the business to train staff for the “new normal” and enforcement of social-distancing requirements that might still be enforced.
But she added that takeout food would continue to be available at the cinema and groups would be able to rent out the theatres for events and screenings during Phase 3.
Ms Easton said: “We still are limited by capacity, but we are able to offer food and put on DVDs or stream from iTunes.
“At 20 per cent capacity, we can have 32 people in the larger theatre, while our smaller theatre can have 12.”
Ms Easton added: “We will take measures to open up more and more, but we will take our time.”
Kyla Forth, the manager of Liberty Theatre, said their next film, Unhinged, will open on July 1, with Mulan to follow on July 24.
She said: “We really don't have any other films available until then and it will give us some time to get the theatre ready.
“We are getting the chairs and the carpets cleaned and getting things set up.”
Ms Forth added that the theatre would introduce assigned seating to ensure proper social-distancing, with customers able to select and buy their tickets online.
She said the theatre could hold group events before July and that she hoped to host summer camp groups.
Ms Forth added: “The theatre has a 270-person capacity, so with 20 per cent that's 54 people, and we have enough space to spread them out.
“I'm really thankful we have a large theatre.”
Ms Forth explained that it would be good if the 20 per cent capacity limit was increased or lifted before July 1, but the theatre was considering additional screenings to make up the difference if it was not.
Ms Forth added that she was optimistic that the public were keen to get back to the big screen.