Coronavirus: Smaller cinemas restart movies for post Covid-19 viewing


Tivoli Cinema Cambridge manager Shane Jarrett. The cinema opened under level 2 conditions on May 14.

Tom Lee/Stuff

Tivoli Cinema Cambridge manager Shane Jarrett. The cinema opened under level 2 conditions on May 14.

Independent theatres are stepping up to accommodate movie-goers looking for a bit of big-screen escapism from the Covid-19 pandemic.

A halt on big-budget movie productions in the US and Europe means many of the larger cinemas in New Zealand have temporarily closed their doors.

But those screening art-house movies and some New Zealand-produced flicks have been able to restart film viewing under level 2.

Karen Focas and Shane Jarett believe their Tivoli Cinemas in Cambridge and Papamoa are among just a few operating around the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

READ MORE:
* What cinemas will be open under level 2 and what’s on?
* Movie theatres focus on a changing scene
* Cinemas still in the dark about what level 2 means for business

The cinema has reduced its ticket prices and offering specials to encourage people to come back to the movies.

Tom Lee/Stuff

The cinema has reduced its ticket prices and offering specials to encourage people to come back to the movies.

“The global releases like Bond and Top Gun, which many of the bigger cinemas rely on, have been pushed back for release,” Focas said.

“If they (mainstream cinemas) opened with the types of movies we normally show, I suppose they would realise they wouldn’t be making much money.”

The Tivoli in Cambridge has three theatres, with the biggest at 52 seats.

The theatre re-opened on May 14 and introduced a new cleaning regime, social distancing rules and a customer registration system.

The cinema has three theatres. The biggest is a 52-seater but under distancing rules, can fit between 20-22 people.

Tom Lee/Stuff

The cinema has three theatres. The biggest is a 52-seater but under distancing rules, can fit between 20-22 people.

Focas said she knew business would be slow as the country moved out of the alert levels.

Distancing rules meant the cinema’s biggest theatre would only be able to seat 20 to 22 people.

All staff had been retained, thanks to the wage subsidy, but were working reduced hours until business started to pick up.

Focas said she expected to see a lift in movie patrons in August and further increases were forecast towards the end of the year as the alert restrictions were lifted.

“We knew we weren’t going to be able to open at 100 per cent because of social distancing.

“Also, a lot of our elderly patrons, who are health-compromised, can’t come back yet but I know they are looking forward to seeing a movie again.

“We have taken a hit but it’s better than closing and I think the community will come back to support us.”

Movies screening at the moment at Tivoli Cambridge included 1917, All At Sea, Emma, Judge Mercy and Dark Waters to name a few.

“Some of the movies were showing before the lockdown and we’ve brought in a few quirky titles offered to us by MadMan Films, like Kenny, the story about a man who cleans toilets; The Lunch Box, a good classic and Searching for Sugar Man.”

Focas said people wanted to watch “upbeat” movies in post-lockdown times. There was also strong interest in films based on true stories.

All at Sea has been a goodie for us and also Dark Waters, about the Dupont chemical company, it’s not upbeat but interesting.

“Another good one is Judge Mercy, also another true story.”

There was scope to screen New Zealand-made comedy movies earmarked for release soon, such as Rams, featuring Sam Neil, and This Town, starring Robyn Malcolm and Rima Te Wiata.

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