Despite the film industry’s movie production schedules churning to a halt, a local cinema is continuing the push to give customers a good show.
The Huntingdon Cinema’s Clifton is showing old releases throughout the summer to fill the gap in cinema entertainment left by the lack of new releases from big-name studios.
“At first they weren’t going to let new movies out until 70% of the screens were open in the U.S. The chains didn’t give guaranteed opening dates,” owner Dave Peoples explained. “It’s the chicken and the egg.”
Peoples said the smaller studios can’t just wait forever, however. He explained audiences may begin seeing a lot more productions from smaller studios going in theaters.
“A lot of their movies are actually pretty good,” Peoples said.
The Clifton 5 has five auditoriums Peoples tries to fill. However, the recent restrictions from Gov. Tom Wolf have added a layer of confusion in the cinema world.
“I could put 40 people in an auditorium and keep them socially distanced. But, the state said keep it at 25. If you keep them socially distanced, can you do 40? Or can you do 25?” Peoples asked. “That’s what also kept some of the big theaters from opening up. It’s putting a pinch on everybody no matter what you do.”
Right now, with social distancing guidelines in place, and because the Clifton 5 is not a restaurant, Peoples said he can place 42 people in auditoriums that would normally fit 132 people. In light of this and the pandemic’s impact on business, his profits are down to anywhere from 8-10% weekdays to 4-7% weekends.
To keep the cinema clean, Peoples’ staff makes liberal use of disinfectant wipes. They wipe down all armrests and surfaces, while they mist the seats with disinfectant as well.
“We’re doing everything we can to make people comfortable and safe, and have a good time,” People said.
They also clean the restrooms, mop the floors and wipe all counters between shows.
“We recommend all customers wear masks, and follow social distancing while in the lobby and theaters. We have separated rows in the theaters to ensure our patrons are 6 feet apart,” a notice on the Clifton 5’s website reads.
“They don’t seem to mind wearing the masks in,” Peoples said. “People can take masks off when sitting down to eat popcorn and other concessions.
“They want a little bit of a sense of normalcy. We’re trying to give them that to make them feel better, make them feel normal.”
Peoples also said he was interested in streaming PIAA games to his theater if there are no movies. Recent guidance from Gov. Tom Wolf spurred the PIAA to recommend no spectators be allowed at sporting events this fall. However, it remains to be seen if high school athletics will make it through a two-week postponement brought on by the PIAA while it discusses the possibility of keeping the season on with Gov. Wolf’s administration.
“A lot of people are telling me they’re tired of sitting at home,” Peoples said. “It’s a big screen. It’s a reason to get out instead of being trapped inside their house. We can give them the theatre experience to get them out of the house. ”
In lieu of new movies, the Clifton 5 is showing The Goonies at 2 p.m., 6:50 p.m. and 9 p.m.; A Star is Born at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Citizen Kane at 1:40 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.; The LEGO Batman Movie at 1:50 p.m., 7:10 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.; and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at 2:10 p.m., 7:20 p.m. and 9:20 p.m.
Regular show tickets cost $5 for adults and 3$ for children and seniors, while matinee tickets cost $3.
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