Since the pandemic, the sights, sounds and smells of a movie theater have been off limits or severely limited.
“It was holding everyone hostage to a certain degree,” says Ted Hane, the general manager of the Mary Pickford Theater.
Until recently theaters were allowed to open with 25 percent capacity.
Hane says after being shut down for months that is unsustainable, “For essentially nine months we had zero income, it was just expense month after month, and that’s millions of dollars lost revenue and it can’t be captured, there’s no way, oh we’re going to sell a couple extra tickets, that would take ten years.”
They’ve gotten creative to survive, offering drive in movies and also private group showings.
But now that infections are down, vaccinations are up and the county is in the orange tier, capacity will go up too.
“We’re finally open at 50 percent and hopefully we won’t have to turn people away like so many we had to this last weekend,” says Hane.
He’s seen a shift, movies are selling out and even though it’s low capacity, it means people are ready and feel safe to go back.
That increased capacity is also good for surrounding businesses like The Roost Lounge.
Jeff McDonald, the co owner of the bar lounge says his place was a go to spot for movie goers, “Before COVID, people would stop at The Roost, and they’d have a cocktail and go enjoy their movies or afterwards … so I‘m very excited to see that the theaters are opening up again.”
Tony Garcia, sitting outside on the patio of The Roost with a friend agrees, they’re both excited everything is coming back. They’re vaccinated and say many others are too and they’re ready to catch up on everything they’ve missed.
“It’s wonderful, you get to live life again and enjoy a movie in a theater and just enjoy going out and being with people again you know because it’s really been depressing being locked up,” says Garcia.
Business owners and managers say vaccinations may be the game changer that won’t force them to shut down again.
“We’ve been through that several times already, we’ve literally taken boxes of product and thrown it in the garbage and that’s very frustrating,” says Hane adding that increased capacity doesn’t mean reduced restrictions.
Hane says they’re taking the precautions very seriously and hope everyone does too so this re-opening can be for good.
He’s hopeful for the first time in a long time.
But no matter what comes next just holding on through this turbulent year already feels like a victory.
“It’s been a long year but we’re one of the few that can say that we’ve done it we’ve survived it,” says McDonald as he tears up.