For many locally owned and small businesses in Calgary, the COVID-19 pandemic offered its own unique challenges.
For Canyon Meadows Cinemas, the road to financial recovery has been long and arduous.
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The cinema says it has seen nearly a 90 per cent drop in revenue since the pandemic began, and due to delays in Hollywood, the theatre is facing a long wait in showing new movies.
“We’re just trying to keep the doors open at this point,” says manager Matthew Hunter.
In an effort to make ends meet and entice audiences to return, the cinema has relied on special food items — like Korean corndogs and custom-made sodas — private events and special screenings.
The cinema is hoping to attract customers by showcasing lesser-known movies that may not make it to big movie theatres, all for a cost of $5 during the summer.
While a lack of fresh content is an industry-wide problem, convincing people that theatres are safe places to be is another.
“We’re still doing our enforced mask policy,” says Globe Cinema manager Cody Cook.
“Masks must be worn in the lobby, the washroom area, but once you’re at your seat, you can remove your mask to eat your concessions.”
But perhaps the biggest obstacle for the movie theatre industry is the advent of video-on-demand services where some movies are becoming available on the same day as their theatrical release.
Landmark Cinemas CEO Bill Walker thinks streaming services allowed production companies to monetize their films while theatres were closed but he believes the big screen will show their value once again once society emerges from the pandemic.
“Once things settle out to a more normal place, we’ll be able to re-establish an exclusive window, where movies go first [to a theatre] and then transition to those second windows,” he said.
Hunter sees streaming services as a great way to introduce people to new television series and movies but feels there is still something special about going to the theatre.
“People will always go to the theatre for the experience of a date night or to get out with their families.”
What ultimately may put audiences back in seats is the buttery, salty and iconic snack that Cook says can’t be replicated at home.
“You come out here and you’re going to get the real movie popcorn.”
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