The show will go on, says Landmark Cinemas CEO Bill Walker.
Penticton Landmark Cinemas 7, along with all movie theatres across B.C., were forced to close under the COVID-19 provincial government restrictions that started on Nov. 19, 2020 and have now been extended to Feb. 4.
“Penticton Landmark and all the Landmark Cinemas will come out of this OK. Pentictonites will be able to go to the movies again. Hopefully in the next month or two. Like so many others, we have seen devastating losses in 2020 but we will survive,” general manager of the Penticton theatre Matt Taylor.
Taylor has been offering theater popcorn and all concession items during the closure. Currently, they offer concession seven days a week from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m.
“It’s been going well. We have DoorDash and Skip the Dishes as well, so you can have movie theatre popcorn delivered right to your home,” said Taylor.
Landmark Cinemas operates theatres across five provinces from B.C. to Ontario.
“Right now, we only have two of our 45 theatres open,” said Walker.
The majority of staff who work at the theatres is young people, he said.
Walker questions why B.C. theatres weren’t categorized with restaurants which have been allowed to remain open.
“Theatres are not a source of transmission. We welcomed hundreds of thousands to our theatres over the summer and we had zero customers with COVID-19 across B.C. to Ontario,” said Walker.
At a restaurant, staff are moving about and there is a lot of close quarters talking and laughing.
“When you come to the theatre, you have to reserve your seat. Then you sit in your reserved seating and don’t talk or move while you watch the movie,” he said. “Plus, we were running at a 25 per cent capacity in each theatre and have HVAC dedicated to each individual auditorium.”
“The safety record of theatres is outstanding and our ability to socially distance is right in limited capacity and reserved spaced out seating. We want to be part of the solution.”
Live streaming companies like Prime, Disney Plus and Netflix have been offering the at-home movie streaming. But going to watch a movie in a theatre is an experience, he added.
“There is a powerful difference between watching Netflix at home and watching a movie in a theatre. When you sit down in a theatre with your popcorn and get fully immersed in a movie, you are creating memories,” said Walker.
That’s why movies like the new James Bond and Black Widow haven’t gone to home streaming because they need that full theatre, big screen and sound experience, said Walker.
Walker pointed out we are all in need of a little escape from this pandemic.
“People need a little balance in their lives. Movies provides that normalcy we all need right now.”
Landmark Cinemas is also hinting to some exciting future endeavours.
“Netflix has created some great content and we are hoping to work with them to bring some of their content into the movie theatres,” he said.
“We are excited to welcome people back safely to watch movies once again,” Walker said.
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