Nearly a year after being closed, movie theaters across New York City are back in business. But the much-anticipated reopening comes with changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- New York City is taking another big step on the road to reopening. Eyewitness News reporter Derick Waller live on the Upper West Side with that part of the story. Derrick?
- That's right.
DERICK WALLER: David, good afternoon. We are standing here inside AMC Lincoln Square. They have been open now for about an hour after being closed for almost an entire year. Some things are different. For one, you have to wear a mask while you are in the theater, unless you are eating or drinking, but some things are not changing.
That movie theater popcorn is back, but will the public come back?
- Too early for me.
DERICK WALLER: Charles Swencionis told me he's holding off. That's despite the fact that Governor Cuomo limited capacity inside movie theaters to just 25% or max of 50 people per screen.
CHARLES SWENCIONIS: I mean, I've had my second vaccination, and it'll be fully effective by this time next week, but I'm not ready.
DERICK WALLER: Inside this AMC, employees are covered up. There's no more self-service drinks, and there's lots of elbow room. And so if you do choose to come out to the movies this weekend, you are going to have plenty of space. AMC, for their part, they are promising that no one will be sitting next to you on either side, behind you, or in front of you.
- We have to try to get back to normal somehow.
DERICK WALLER: And the industry is counting on customers like Carlos Marte.
CARLOS MARTE: I like movies. Movie theaters will always have a place. It doesn't matter if there are streaming services. There's nothing like coming with your kids, with your family.
DERICK WALLER: AMC, the nation's largest movie theater chain, almost went bankrupt last year. And small independent theaters are not faring much better. Andrew Elgart, owner of the Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn, told us 25% is not going to pay the bills.
ANDREW ELGART: How much are we going to lose? Do we lose tons? Or do we lose half? Or do we just close and not lose as much?
DERICK WALLER: And so, you know, one more thing that's not so good for theaters, what's worse here is that so many studios are now releasing their films direct to streaming. And so we'll see if that trend continues, but at least one actor is fighting back against that trend.
Listen to this. Liam Neeson, he's got a new movie out today called "The Marksman." He posted online, he's actually going to be here at this theater, AMC Lincoln Square, to greet fans and welcome them back to the movies.