Brockport movie theater owner on forced closure: ‘We just keep waiting, and waiting, and waiting’

Coronavirus

BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — While many businesses have reopened in New York state, movie theaters are still anxiously waiting to open their doors again. New York is one of four states that hasn’t allowed cinemas to reopen.

The owners of The Strand theater in Brockport said they haven’t brought in any money since closing back in March. They said they don’t understand what the holdup is on reopening movie theaters.

Jason Yantz is the president of Rochester Theater Management and the owner of four local movie theaters including The Strand. He said he needs to make money soon because he still has overhead costs and the PPP loan he received wasn’t nearly enough.

“Governor Cuomo is allowing casinos to open, bowling alleys to open, gyms to open and he won’t let movie theaters reopen and this is a problem nationwide, not only him not allowing. New York state is one of the biggest markets for movie theaters so its actually hurting the film industry because they’re reluctant to release movies because they need New York state’s market to reopen,” Yantz said.

The Strand, along with many other theaters statewide, are implementing Cinema Safe, which is a movie theater reopening plan developed by epidemiologists hired by the National Association of Theater Owners.

“Employees will have face masks, customers will have face masks, they can take the face masks off while they’re seated, while they’re eating. Theaters will be at 50% occupancy, hopefully…We’re blocking off every other row and as customers come in we’re asking you have to leave at least two seats between you and the other party. We’ve installed plexiglass at the concessions.”

All theaters will be cleaned between showings and showtimes will be staggered to avoid crowds. Yantz said when they finally do reopen, they’ll need the community’s support.

“People enjoy coming and seeing movie on the big screen, getting fresh popcorn and we just want them to be safe they can come here and enjoy. They can escape life for a little while and not have to worry about COVID.”

He said people can go to saveyourcinema.com to demand their legislators to help save local movie theaters. He said they can use all the help they can get right now.

Yantz also said the National Association of Theater Owners set up a meeting with someone from Governor Cuomo’s office on Friday. He said the representative would be going and looking at a theater following the Cinema Safe protocol.

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