A pause on the release of multiple blockbuster films this year has led to the second temporary closing of The Strand Theatre in Simcoe.
As part of Ontario’s Stage 3 economic reopening plan, movie theatres were able to begin operating. The Strand reopened on Aug. 28, and has closed its doors for a second time on Sept. 25.
“It was not very busy, which I don’t think comes as a huge surprise,” Mark Rapley, director of operations at the Strand, said of the four weeks they were open.
Staff at the Strand hoped a couple of weeks of momentum and building trust of their patrons would create more traffic into the theatre. A large number of safety protocols, including roping off seats and installing a debit machine to avoid use of cash, were put into place before the theatre reopened.
Rapley said the number of people in the building each screening was far below the maximum 50 allowed in each theatre.
“I don’t think it’s controversial to say any venue that runs that far below capacity is not going to be sustainable in the long term,” he said.
Along with the lack of people entering the building, there was also a lack of new content being put on the screen.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, one of the first films screened as theatres began to open, didn’t perform nearly as well as anticipated, said Rapley.
The poor performance of this movie led to other major studios deciding to either send their movies directly to streaming services or push the theatrical release back at least a few months. Films expected to release in October have now been moved to December or later.
“It’s not just a Simcoe thing, it’s not even just a movie industry thing, it’s a recognition of the fact that even if the best movies of all time were in the cinemas right now, nobody is coming out to watch them.”
Rapley said he was impressed with the way staff ensured social distancing and safety measures for patrons while they were open.
There is no set return date. The first closure was for roughly five months.