Pitt Meadows’ Hollywood-3 co-owner Moby Amarsi said there still seems to be a lot of hesitation from movie fans who would ordinarily choose to watch their favourite films on the big screen.
Since opening the doors of his five Lower Mainland cinemas on June 12, business has been spotty and unpredictable.
“We’re having on days, and we’re having off days,” Amarsi said, pointing out the theatres are quite often relying on the elements more than the draw of a good film.
“When the weather is not so good, we get a little more people coming in.”
Amarsi noted they have taken measures like – sanitizing the theatres thoroughly, putting up Plexiglass barriers at concessions stands as well as ticket booths, and ensuring patrons are seated at least six-feet away from people who are not in their groups – in the hopes of alleviating cinema viewers’ fears.
In addition, the Hollywood-3 owner said they have even made it easier on people’s pockets by reducing prices down to $2.50 per ticket; and are offering private showings in which groups, or corporations can rent out the whole theatre for a few hours.
But potential customers have still been reluctant to leave the comfort of their couches, and Netflix subscriptions.
A movie experience is supposed to be an escape, and if people are still worried about catching a disease, it can be difficult for them to enjoy munching on movie theatre popcorn – even if they are being treated to a superior visual and audio experience.
Amarsi said the reluctance of production companies to release many of their films to the theatres has been detrimental too.
“It’s kind of a vicious cycle,” he said.
“They don’t release a movie, because they think they’re not going to make money, and because they don’t release the movie, we are left with little to show too.”
Second run theatres, like Amarsi’s Hollwood-3 cinemas, have had to be creative by screening older favourites like Star Wars, Mamma Mia, Harry Potter, and Jaws in order to entice their customers; but with many of those films showing on streaming services, it has been difficult to convince wary customers to come through their doors.
Amarsi is trying to stay positive, and pointed out his theatres are in the same bind as many companies in the province.
“Unless you sell alcohol, or are involved in home delivery, the majority of businesses are feeling the pinch in one way or another,” he said, before expressing some hope.
“I think within three to six months, we’ll see some light at the end of the tunnel.”