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Corona Virus Effect On Theatres In The USA

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  • Corona Virus Effect On Theatres In The USA

    I was just wondering if the Corona virus is having an effect on attendance here in the USA?

    I am on the email list for The Lafayette Theatre in Suffern NY, a 1000 seat single screen first run venue. Yesterday, I got the following email from them:

    Originally posted by Mitchell Dvoskin from the Lafayette Theatre email
    In light of the current situation in our community, the Lafayette Theater is committed to doing our part to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our measures are guided by information provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and state recommendations, and our own determination of how to keep an environment that is mindful of the risks around this virus spreading.

    - Going forward we are limiting the number of tickets available for each public showing to 100 attendees. This will allow for our patrons to have ample space to spread out within our theater and keep crowding to a minimum in the lobby. Private rentals will be at the discretion of the respective client.

    - We encourage online purchasing of tickets through our website, to ensure seating availability for the desired showing. The following link will be updated real time with all available showtimes of both first-run and classic films. Click on desired date and showtime to Purchase Online Tickets.

    - When possible, please use credit cards for purchasing concessions to help avoid the circulation of cash.

    - All communal areas, bathrooms, lobby and the main theater are regularly cleaned by staff using a variety of disinfectant cleaners to assist in stopping the spread of germs. This includes seats used by patrons in between showings.

    To support our efforts, we encourage our patrons to follow CDC recommendations posted in our bathrooms and lobby. Soap and hand sanitizer are readily available for use by our guests.
    Please take these additional steps to protect others in our Lafayette community:

    - If you or someone in your household is sick, stay home. We know that COVID-19 can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing (though sneezing not necessarily a symptom), and suggest that if either are occurring, please refrain from attending the Lafayette.
    While limiting attendance to 100 people in a 1000 seat theatre, so people can spread out, may work in their location it does not seem to be a practical solution for most venues. Further, I have to wonder how are distributors going react to limiting attendance to 100/per showing.

  • #2
    How is everyone handling the inevitable impact this will have on attendance? Are you taking special measures to decrease the possibility of exposure for customers and employees, and/or to increase customer confidence to continuing to go to the movies?

    Are you cleaning touch surfaces more, and are you doing it obviously, so that people see that you're making a special effort to keep things clean? I think Disney's statement was very effective at communicating that their parks are kept clean and the steps that they are taking in light of current events.

    I would think that those reusable popcorn tubs that are popular with quite a few chains will need to be suspended, or at least handled in such a way to minimize the transfer of germs from customers to employees to food, etc.


    • #3
      Also this will probably have a longer effect on indies than the rest of the industry given how many indie films are going to have delayed festival runs as a result of this. This will effect their release dates into next year and could seriously affect release schedules. I know the festival I program for is already checking back with some of our features that were SXSW or Cleveland premieres to see if they're pulling their screenings for smaller fests.


      • #4
        Well we were just informed of our first theatre closures due to the virus.

        I wonder if any Drive-Ins are about to open that maybe could step it up. That would be a reasonably safe movie experience since you mostly remain in YOUR car to limit you social exposure.


        • #5
          In Belgium, all cinemas are closed until the 3rd of April. Most other European countries (with the exception to Italy) haven't chosen to take such drastic measures yet, though I guess France will be the next one to announce similar measures.
          Last edited by Marcel Birgelen; 03-13-2020, 12:54 AM. Reason: typo...


          • #6
            A friend down near Santa Cruz, CA, sent me a picture last night of a multiplex theater somewhere near
            where he is at, and although it was still open, the Box Office itself was all closed up & covered with signs
            advising patrons that they had no B O staff, and could only buy tickets online or at a nearby kiosk.
            I guess they are trying to minimize staff exposure and things like handling cash. He didn't go inside, so I
            have no idea how they are handling the concessions. Maybe they'll fire everyone & go back to putting in
            vending machines. He also mentioned that 'the whole place looked empty' and I can't see any people
            standing around the theater or lobby in either of the two photos he sent.

            > A friend of mine is seeing a therapist. She was informed yesterday that starting next week, her sessions
            would be held by phone or video-chat.
            Last edited by Jim Cassedy; 03-13-2020, 10:08 AM.


            • #7
              California public health recommendations are at .


              • #8
                I have not heard of any movie theater closures in the Seattle, WA area due to the limitation of less than 250 people in a single venue. Most (if not all) theaters doing live performances have closed.


                • #9
                  One think that is very unclear when they put these gathering size limits in place is, when applied to a movie theatre, would the limit be per auditorium or per complex? If per auditorium there is no need to close. Just limit ticket sales to below that amount in any larger auditoriums.

                  Personally, I would sell maybe 40% of tickets, block off every other row and leave one seat open between parties. I would also plead with people via large signs that anybody that is coughing or has a fever should not enter the building.


                  • #10
                    The Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer has just issued the following order.

                    The following orders will come into effect on Monday, March 16 until further notice:
                    • No public gathering of over 250 people in any one room take place. This does not include settings where people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings, such as schools, universities or workplaces;
                    • The Chief Medical Health Officer orders that no events of over 50 people with speakers or attendees who have travelled internationally in the last 14 days take place;
                    • Retail locations and faith-based organizations are exempt, however, they should have measures (such as crowd size monitoring) that support safe social distancing and should seek guidance from the local medical health officer if necessary; and
                    • Effective immediately, people who have travelled outside the province in the previous 14 days or have acute repository or flu-like symptoms should avoid visiting long term care homes and hospitals.
                    Why the order doesn't come into force immediately is a question that I don't know the answer to.

                    Also, I just saw this:

                    Landmark Cinemas, which operates movie theatres in Regina, Saskatoon and Yorkton, has announced it will limit the number of people in each of its theatres by half.

                    "Our reserved seating system has blocked every other loveseat recliner or conventional chair to dramatically increase personal space," Landmark said in a news release.
                    I'm starting to wonder if it's even going to be worth opening the door for the movie tonight. A lot of people who might otherwise come to the show might be scared away with the saturation news coverage.

                    I guess I'll set up for tonight's show as usual and see what happens.


                    • #11
                      I just got an e-mail from two neighborhood theaters here in San Francisco that are shutting their doors
                      as of tonight because "The City of San Francisco has mandated that any business with a capacity of
                      100 or more persons must close for the immediate future".
                      > NO!!< That's not what the mandate said! It only said that you can't hold any 'non essential event'
                      with more than 100 people.
                      So, for example, if you had a restaurant that can hold 150 people, you can't admit any more than 100
                      diners at a time.

                      The famous Castro Theater, for example, is intending to stay open, but not to sell any more than 100
                      tickets for any individual show.

                      (Earlier in the week, the 'capacity cap' was higher, but was revised downward to 100 as of today)

                      It may all be a moot point, as the constant news coverage (not that this isn't an important issue)
                      has caused many people to panic and just stay home. Downtown SF is a lot more empty than usual.
                      In fact the biggest crowd I've seen so far this week was at TARGET where people were clamoring to
                      hoard food, cleaning supplies, bottled water, and toilet paper. The place was practically cleaned out.


                      • #12
                        Bergen County NJ, across the Hudson River from northern New York City has ordered all theaters (movies & live) closed.


                        • #13
                          Screenings in Ohio have a limit of 100 seats. There does not seem to be a limit on how many can be in the building, just 100 per room. With schools out, theaters might do a good business next week if they have some family programming.


                          • #14
                            The famous Castro Theater, for example, is intending to stay open
                            they have closed too, as of this morning. both theaters i regularly work at have shut for the time being, so paying the rent next month will be a challenge.

                            in fact, just about all the "interesting" venues around here (sf bay area) are shuttered. the new mission hasn't announced a closure yet, and if they're still open tuesday and wednesday i'll watch a couple movies, but i'm not holding my breath.


                            • #15
                              The virus has cut attendance at my theater by 80%....and with less product becoming available I dont see it getting any better any time soon.
                              We've had to suspend all staff shifts, starting next week it will just be managers working.

                              Its very bad .....