State Watch

New York theaters display banners urging governor to reopen cinemas

Victor J. Blue/Getty Images
A Regal Cinemas remains closed on March 17, 2020 in New York City. Schools, businesses and most places where people congregate across the country have been shut down as health officials try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Instead of a list of newly released films, the banners outside movie theaters across New York that have been forced to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic have started displaying calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to allow them to reopen. 

Theaters across the state, including the Regal E-Walk in New York City’s Times Square, have started promoting a similar message: “48 states have reopened theaters so far. Why not New York, Gov. Cuomo? #ReopenOurCinemasNY.”

Joseph Masher, president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told The Hollywood Reporter that the Regal E-Walk signage is part of a statewide initiative to bring attention to the economic hardships theaters have faced since the start of the pandemic. 

Users on Twitter also posted pictures of similar signs at other movie theater locations in additional New York cities, including Jamestown and Montauk. 

While Cuomo has lifted restrictions on some businesses in the state, including restaurants, gyms and churches, New York movie theaters still remain closed to the public. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi responded to the criticism from movie theater owners in a statement, saying, “We understand some people are unhappy, but you know what? Better unhappy than sick or worse.

“We’re moving heaven and earth trying to stop a second wave and people need to acknowledge that we’re still in a pandemic and start to act like it,” he added.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced an order closing nonessential businesses for “at least 14 days” in areas of the city experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases. 

On Friday, the New York State Department of Health reported 1,447 new cases in the state, bringing the total to more than 473,000 infections. 

In August, The New York Times reported that executives from AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Marcus Theaters and Regal Cinemas all signed on to a campaign called “CinemaSafe,” reopening theaters with new safety protocols to protect customers from COVID-19, including mask requirements, 40 to 50 percent capacity limits and plexiglass partitions. 

The executives said at the time that more than 2,600 theaters operating more than 30,000 screens in the United States had signed on. 

With fewer movie theaters bringing in revenue, the owner of Regal Cinemas, Cineworld, announced last week that it was considering temporarily closing all of its screens in the U.S. and Britain as studios continue to delay the release of big films amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The company employs 37,482 people across 787 venues in the U.S., Britain and central Europe, including 546 venues in the U.S.

Tags AMC Theaters AMC Theatres Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio California Cinemark Theatres Cineworld coronavirus covid-19 New York New York City REGAL CINEMAS Regal Cinemas The Hollywood Reporter United States

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