Plainville, Berlin, Southington movie theaters open, struggling during pandemic

Published on Sunday, 10 January 2021 15:37
Written by Catherine Shen


About five months after local movie theaters reopened its doors to moviegoers, safety protocols and creative movie packages helped entice customers, but the turnout through the fall and winter has remained limited.

As the state and local covid-19 cases continue to rise, the Picture Show at Berlin is keeping its doors propped open and have had steady customers over the last several months. The Berlin movie theater is one of 12 movie theaters total within the national chain and all 12 locations have reopened as of December.

Even with customers slowly trickling in, times remain uncertain and the Picture Show Entertainment Headquarters released a call for help late last year as part of a campaign called #SaveYourCinema to help preserve local theaters.

While Congress passed legislation in December that included $15 billion in grants for small and mid-sized movie theater companies, the Picture Show Entertainment Headquarters said, “We still need assistance for companies left out of this program so that we can preserve our local theaters and the 153,000 jobs they provide.”

To ensure every precaution is met, Picture Show, along with the National Association of Theatre Owners, has implemented many operational adjustments and safety measures including plexiglass barriers to reduce contact between team members and guests, enforcing and maintaining a six-foot physical distance in all areas of the theater including lobby and auditoriums marked with floor signage, safely spaced recliner seating, and due to local and state mandates, they are not selling concessions at this time.

While public safety guidelines are being met, it is also hurting sales at concessions which theaters depend on for about a third of total revenue, according to Bloomberg. Following the footsteps of Picture Show, the AMC Theatres in both Plainville and Southington have also stopped selling food and beverages.

While AMC Plainville is open seven days a week, AMC Southington is now open three days a week, Friday through Sunday.

As the world’s largest movie theater chain, with approximately 960 theaters and 10,700 screens across the globe, the publicly traded company is not eligible for the $15 billion pandemic relief package, which is part of the much larger $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

AMC saw its third quarter revenue in 2020 fall nearly 91%, taking in just $119.5 million in revenue compared to $1.3 billion in 2019 during the same time frame. Domestic attendance has also dropped significantly due to shuttered theaters for more than five months, sinking from 87,100 movie goers in 2019 to 6,503 last year, according to AMC.

Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC, said in a released statement that “The magnitude of the impact of the global pandemic on the theatrical exhibition industry was again evident in our third quarter results, as theatre operations in the U.S. were suspended for nearly two-thirds of the quarter.

“And yet, despite unrelenting obstacles, the AMC team continued to make significant progress in pursuit of our three key priorities: to strengthen our liquidity position; to dramatically reduce operating and capital expenditures, and to continue to safely and successfully restore our operations,” he said.

The movie chain has been doing just that by renegotiating deals with landlords and business partners, implementing measures to reduce employment costs and eliminating non-essential operating expenditures.

“The duration and impact of this pandemic are still affecting us to this day and are certain to continue to affect our results going forward,” said Aron. “And yet, as has been the case at AMC for 100 years, we have remained resilient and resourceful. The liquidity enhancing and leverage reducing actions that we already have taken and will further need to take, combined with our relentless focus on efficiency and cash management, are all crucial to navigating through this storm.”

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, Plainville, Southington Herald on Sunday, 10 January 2021 15:37. Updated: Sunday, 10 January 2021 15:39.