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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 23, 2020
City Cinema sold-out during the weekend for the first time since reopening on July 17.
It sold less than 20 tickets due to its socially distanced seating plan.
Reduced seating is only a part of what the theatre has done to make the movie-going experience safer, though it’s the main thing the cinema is looking at modifying moving forward so it can start generating needed revenue.
Carol Horne, president of the Charlottetown Film Society, is happy with the work her team has done, but knows some people are still too uncomfortable with the idea of going out to see a movie.
“There’s going to be people who aren’t ready to come out to a cinema, and I totally understand that, but the ones who really want to see a movie, I think we’ve set it up the best we can.”
The cinema had a slow first week after reopening but has seen a steady flow of regulars wanting to get back to watching movies on a big screen, said Horne.
“We definitely have a very loyal following.”
Other coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) precautions include two lanes when entering, for those skipping food, with arrows on the floor and plexiglass installed at the ticket table and concessions.
Masks are also highly recommended and available for those who forget to bring their own.
The theatre also has a new booking system on its website, so people can order tickets with a credit card ahead of time, along with new debit and credit machines at the door and concessions.
Pre-pandemic, online purchasing was through PayPal and the theatre was a cash-only business.
Though the features were planned in advance of the pandemic, they came at an opportune time.
“During the time we were closed we were able to get our new system up and running, so very much now we’re no cash, unless you don’t have anything else," Horne said.
Though there aren’t any big movie releases in the coming months, City Cinema has always focused on smaller, older or independent films, so its lineup doesn’t look too different than usual, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any issues, said Derek Martin, the former owner who is helping out with bookings.
“In this case, we had less choice of new titles, so we were less fussy about shows already being out on pay-per-view than we might normally be," he said in an email.
The schedule, whatever it turns out to be for the coming months, will be crucial for the theatre, which needs to increase its cashflow after receiving assistance through government relief programs, said Horne.
“The government programs have helped us, like so many other businesses, but the test will be the next three months, I think.”