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New York cinemas are reopening, illuminating the prospects of theaters

NEW YORK (AP) – New York cinemas reopened on Friday after a year of spider web growth, returning movie titles to Manhattan mansions who have been reading “Mask Hagger” and “We Will Do It” for the past 12 months. I will be back soon. “

Shortly after noon at the Angelica Cinema Center in Houston, Holly Stillman was already feeling like she was leaving the first screening of Lee Isaac Chung’s family drama “Minaret.” “My mask is wet,” he said.

But returning to the cinema pressed him equally. Although Stillman feared that the experiment would be too restrictive because of the COVID-19 protocols, he instead found it euphoric.

“You’s the only: movie,” Stillman said. “It was great to smell popcorn as soon as I got into the theater, even though I don’t eat popcorn.”

Less than half of the cinemas in the country are open, but the reopening is accelerating. Theaters reopened in many other regions last summer around the release of Christopher Nolan’s Talent, but the return experience shone. Theaters in all five districts were closed throughout. For almost a month, one of the world’s leading films went dark for a year.

For the theatrical business punished by the epidemic, the resumption of film in New York is the decisive first step in the renaissance.

“It’s a symbolic moment,” said Michael Barker, co-chair of Sony Pictures Classics in New York, who released “Father” and “Truffle Hunters” at the Manhattan Theater on Friday. “It says there is hope that the theatrical world will be revived.”

For some viewers, who see the big screen as the only way to watch a movie, the coming day had an almost religious significance.

“A movie for me is like going to church,” said M. M. Vargas, who had tickets to the Minaret, The Last Dragon, and Walking Chaos on Friday. “I waited a year to return to church.”

The city’s cinemas are currently operating at a capacity of only 25%, with a maximum of 50 per audience. As in other places, wearing a mask is mandatory, seats are locked, air filters are upgraded.

Many theaters were gone when Governor Andrew Cuomo said cinemas could reopen under those conditions. Some of the city’s most prominent theaters, including the Cinema Forum, Alamo Drafthouse, Metrograph և Regal Cinemas, are targeting openings in the coming weeks. Some needed more time to prepare. After sitting quietly all winter, the Manhattan Cinema Village burst into a pipe two weeks ago, flooding the lobby. One last bad luck during an alarming year.

“It was the worst horror movie ever. “I do not think any Hollywood director could have dreamed of that,” said Nicholas Nicolaou, owner of the Quincy, New York, Village Cinema. “We did not know we would have a 100% shutdown for so long.”

New York, along with Los Angeles (where cinemas are still closed) is one of the best film markets. For smaller films, this may be the epicenter of the word of mouth. This is a lucrative need for blockbusters. Without the opening of New York or Los Angeles, Hollywood studios pushed most of their larger productions until more theaters opened or they directed movies to streaming services.

“The opening of New York is very important for the theatrical business of New York, the country and the world,” said John von Fitian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners. “We live in the movie business from movies that are played all over the country, all over the world. We constantly see that these films leave the theatrical release schedule to be moved to later dates because there were simply no markets. New York is the most important of these markets. ”

Recently, President Biden predicted that every adult could be vaccinated by the end of May, the prospect of theaters is shining brightly for the first time in recent times. Over the weekend, Tommy rye grossed $ 14.1 million at the box office, even as it ran on HBO Max. Although Universal Pictures’ “Fast & Furious” sequel prompted “F9” from late May to late June, other films moved to the calendar, changing the wave of delays.

Sony Pictures has announced that it will release “Peter Rabbit 2” in May. The Runaway “movie. Paramount Pictures’ “A Quiet Place II” relocated on May 28, the release date of “F9”. Walt Disney Company’s “Widow” will currently be on May 7. Adding optimism. Theaters in Southern California are expected to open in the next few weeks.

“It’s not like we’re going back to record-breaking business this summer,” Fitian said. “We will crawl, then we will walk, then we will run away. It will be 2022 until stable profitability returns to business. ”

But at least on Friday, New York’s movie theaters were lively, if not crowded. Sold signs for decorated evening box office windows. Even a small stellar force returned. Liam Neeson was to stop at AMC in Lincoln Square to present the Sign.

Masked moviegoers gathered at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village to reach out, even if the movies were flowing. IFC conducts a four-week series entitled “What Do We Miss?” During the last 12 months, the theater could not play, including “The First Cow” և “MLK / FBI”.

“We’re used to seeing these films in New York audiences as they move into the public sphere,” said FC on Vanco, IFC Senior Vice President. According to him, the circumstances were not ideal. But they were better than nothing. “I do not think 25% is good enough,” Vanko said. “I look at it better than 0%.”

At IFC, Tycoon Herman was confirmed for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and had tickets to “The Chicago 7 Trial” at 5 p.m.

“I’m one of the few who does not have Netflix,” Herman said with a laugh. “I’m just old-fashioned. “I’ve loved the theater experience since I saw ET. It’s not going to be the same, but sitting on this screen makes me feel that soon everything can be normal.”

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Follow AP filmmaker Ake Coyle on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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