More movie theatres reopening across the northeast
SUDBURY -- Those missing seeing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and trending films are sure to welcome the news that more cinemas across northeastern Ontario are reopening their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sudbury's Indie Cinema, which showcases independent films in its venue located in the downtown core, is beginning what it is calling a soft launch.
"For the next three weeks of August, from Thursday through Sunday, we're going to screen two films a day and we've made some changes so that we are doing our best in terms of the best practices to prevent COVID," said Beth Mairs, who works on programming at the venue.
The theatre has been dark since the COVID-19 pandemic forced its doors shut nearly six months ago.
For its regulars, there will be some noticeable changes that have been put in place, including reduced capacity, with no more than 40 people inside the auditorium at any time, physical distancing measures and enhanced cleaning protocols.
While shutdown, the indie cinema's board of directors collected data from a survey of its cliental for a better idea of how many may return. Findings demonstrated about 45 per cent intended to return once restrictions were eased.
Mairs said time will tell if that holds true.
"How long it will take people to follow up on that intention is a question, and I think, it also has to do with how well we handle the reopening and how comfortable and secure people feel when they're in here, that we're taking their health and safety seriously," said Mairs.
Other new measures in place include an extended turnaround time in between shows to help with cleaning practices as well as moviegoers exiting through the auditorium's emergency exit, thereby alleviating a packed lobby filled with those leaving and those coming for the next show.
The theatre is also being welcomed back by many of its community partners, including the Coalition for Liveable Sudbury and the Up Here Festival. Mairs said that many of the films being screened over the coming weeks will have close ties to these groups, saying that during this time, with many of these organizations forced to operate virtually, this partnership provides a venue for them to get their message out.
"The fact that indie cinema is open provides an opportunity for some other groups that are trying to organize, but they don't have that infrastructure in place to host something," said Mairs.
For those itching for a Hollywood blockbuster, Cineplex continues to open up more of its locations.
The Galaxy Cinemas in Sault Ste. Marie will be opening Aug. 14 and is set to have both a mixture of new releases and classic films.
"We've been really pleased with the response that we've seen for guests," said Sarah Van Lange, executive director of communications for Cineplex. "Our capacity has been reduced in our auditoriums by as much as 60 to 80 per cent. That being said, we have seen a lot of interest in moviegoers across the province, and Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury are no different."
Like Sudbury's Silver City Theatre, the Sault's Galaxy Cinemas will be opened with restrictions in place as well. All of the theatre's 1,687 auditoriums across the country will now be offering reserved seating, to respect physical distancing concerns.
"Every other row is now going to be totally empty and there will be at least three seats between you and your closest neighbour, so you can really ensure that there is proper physical distancing within the auditorium itself," said Van Lange.
For those who remain apprehensive about visiting the theatre, the Horizon Drive In is continuing its summer tour of northeastern Ontario. Upcoming weekend showings will visit cities across the north including Sudbury, North Bay and its first visit to Timmins on Aug. 21.