Some NYC indie theaters can’t open in time for Gov. Cuomo’s reopening start date


New York City movie theaters will be allowed to open their doors to guests starting on March 5, but some independent-run entities aren’t happy with the short notice they received from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Owners of select small movie theaters told the New York Post that they won’t be able to get up and running in the timeframe that they’ve been presented in addition to financial challenges that exist with capacity limits.

On Monday, Cuomo announced that theaters can reopen at “25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen.”

The capacity limit is reportedly in place to protect moviegoers from the novel coronavirus as the nation continues to battle the pandemic. There are other health and safety measures theaters need to follow in order to operate, including mandatory face masks, assigned seating, social distancing, enhanced cleaning and filtration and more.

“That’s just a total loss of revenue by even opening,” independent theater owner Harvey Elgart told the Post.

Elgart owns three theaters in the city, including Cobble Hill Cinemas, Kew Gardens Cinemas and Williamsburg Cinemas. In his opinion, reopening might seem like an unfeasible task for some small theaters.

“The overhead to run a theater is just tremendous,” Elgart explained. “The utility bills, the electric, the heat. It’s a major cash-flow problem to open with so few people to come. I can actually do better by staying closed than open.”

Meanwhile, indie theater owner Nick Nicolaou told the Post his theaters won’t be able to meet the March 5 start date.

His theater Cinema Village in Greenwich Village had its pipes freeze. He also says his Alpine Cinema in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn has suffered similar damage.

“When you have buildings like that, 100 years old, and they close, it creates other issues,” Nicolaou shared.

Despite the challenges, he told the Post he aims to get his theaters running on April 1.

Moreover, Nicolaou seemed more optimistic about reopening with COVID-19 restrictions.

“Operating at 25 percent is not going to cover expenses, but it’s going to allow us to reopen and reopen safely,” he said. “To train our staff and follow the guidelines, that takes time.”

On the flip side, small theaters that are set to reopen on March 5 have shared social media posts to notify their local followers.

The IFC Center and Angelika Film Center issued tweets about their upcoming reopening.


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