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Movie theater owners say they are ready to open

Posted at 9:32 PM, Aug 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 10:05:05-04

Movie theater operators in Western New York are wondering if they were forgotten, as bowling alleys are opening and gyms are set to receive instructions on how to open this coming week.

Some movie theaters are losing money.

"Literally we don't have a business right now. We're in a situation where - with the exception of some popcorn money coming in - we have no income coming in,"said Lynn Kinsella, owner of the Aurora Theater.

"We have tried to be innovative. We've done a virtual cinema, we've offered films online but people really enjoy coming to a cinema and having that social experience. And so it's been tough, cash flow has been an issue," said Ray Barker, North Park Theater Program Director.

Movie theater owners are still responsible for paying bills, utilities, lease and insurance. Kinsella said she's able to make some profit from selling popcorn and hosting private events.

The North Park and Aurora theaters have been closed since mid March.

"Our state organization has been working for months in presenting proposed guidelines to New York state for the reopening of movie theaters, and we have really received no indications that those have been accepted," said Kinsella.

"We're going to put into place social distancing. Now keep in mind in a theater, people sit back-to-back. So if we have two seats on either side of the person, that gives us the six feet recommended distance from the CDC," said Barker. "So with people sitting back to back with social distancing, with masks, I think we can keep people safe."

AMC has announced reopening dates for theaters nationwide except New York and California - which are major markets for movie releases. New Jersey, North Carolina, Michigan, Washington, and Arizona also remain closed.

Studios and film distributors are either postponing movie releases, or some movies will go straight to streaming.

"We have cleaning supplies, we have gloves, we have masks, we have plexiglass...we have a plan, we have training for our staff. So we're ready, it's just waiting to find out if what we are proposing to be done is going to be acceptable," said Kinsella.

Gov. Cuomo's office has provided this statement to 7 Eyewitness News:

“The measures the Governor has taken were intended to – and did – curb the rise of infection across the State. They also allowed us to avoid subsequent spikes of infection. Reports show that infections are rising in more than 35 states, and that officials in those states have been forced to reclose businesses and other parts of the economy that were opened too early. Every public opinion survey has shown an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support our re-opening approach. Our number one priority remains protecting the health of New Yorkers — and we are continuing to look at the issue and are in discussions with the industry about appropriate safety protocols.”
Governor Cuomo's Office