Texas Cinemas Staying Closed Despite Abbott
Theater chains place safety over politics and profit
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, cinemas were among the first businesses to close. This week, Gov. Greg Abbott will allow theatres to reopen at 25% capacity: but most cinemas are not interested.
Abbott announced on April 27 that theatres would be part of Phase One of his plan to reopen Texas on May 1. However, the move has been widely criticized as grandstanding that ignores the realities of restaffing, retraining, the lack of new releases, and the economics of running at quarter-capacity. Even the National Association of Theatre Owners has questioned the feasibility of any such piecemeal, state-by-state reopening.
Locally, Austin Film Society CEO Rebecca Campbell said that she was "shocked" at Abbott's decision, adding that AFS Cinema will remain closed until further notice. Similarly, the Alamo Drafthouse confirmed its sites, including the six in the Austin area, will remain closed. Opening while ensuring safety of staff and customers "is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly." In fact, the only Central Texas theatre taking up Abbott's offer is the Evo chain, which is only opening two of its five locations (Kyle and Schertz).
For more on this story, read “Abbott Says Cinemas Can Reopen. Cinemas Say ‘No, Thanks.’” at austinchronicle.com/screens.