New York theaters hampered by 25% capacity cap, need 75% by July 4 – Deadline

New York operators saw their hopes dashed Monday as Governor Andrew Cuomo made no move at a press conference to increase the capacity of cinemas in the five boroughs by 25% to 50% expected.

the Godzilla vs. Kong The weekend’s box office scramble ($ 285 million worldwide) shows that moviegoers want to come back to theaters, but in New York, it’s hard to accommodate them or make any money. New York NATO President Joe Masher hopes things will change in Mortal combat time, April 16. But the bottom line is that things have to change later. Theaters really need to be open at 50% or more capacity by Memorial Day, to Cruella and Quite a place Part II, and 75% or more by July 4, for Top Gun Maverick and Black Widow – provided it is safe to do so.

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“We’re at the governor’s door every morning with a call or email to try to hit a 50% low statewide right now, given that there is no case of Covid in theaters and people clearly want to get to the movies, ”Masher said. “We just can’t do it at 25%. We must welcome the public who go to the cinema. We can do it safely. Some theaters that haven’t been able to reopen because they know they can’t do it 25%.

Masher said some 5,000 movie theater workers were still unemployed as chains could not afford to fully replenish their staff.

“They say there are increasing numbers and variations and they are watching them closely before making any decisions,” Masher added, referring to the governor’s office.

The 25% capacity cap does not make scientific or logical sense, given that indoor dining in restaurants, where people sit across from each other to talk, eat and drink without a mask, have a capacity of 50%. Guests in theaters usually don’t speak, face the same direction, and wear masks unless popcorn is popping. But so has been the lot of movie theaters under Governor Cuomo’s Covid reopening.

The majority of the city’s auditoriums, he said, have been refurbished with oversized luxury recliners that already eliminate up to 60% of the seating. Thus, an original 200-seat theater can now accommodate 80 people and, at 25%, 20 people. “It doesn’t make sense. We have to be able to survive,” said Masher, also CEO of Bowtie Cinemas.

DMA New York is one of the top two film markets in the country and a true recovery of the industry is not possible without it. After being closed for an entire year, the city’s theaters were allowed to open on March 5, again, at a capacity of 25% or a maximum of 50 people per screen, whichever is smaller, and with masks, social distancing and other protocols and the required air. filtration and purification systems. Exhibs hoped that a few weeks of surveillance would suffice and that an increase to 50% would certainly follow the restaurants.

Cuomo previously allowed theaters outside New York to reopen at 25% capacity in October. They always stay at 25%.

Los Angeles, the other major US film market, allowed theaters to open on March 11 at 25% capacity (or 100 people, whichever is less). On March 31, they were allowed to go to 50% of their capacity, or 200 people.

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