With big summer blockbusters coming soon, B.C. movie theatres ask to re-open
VANCOUVER -- With COVID-19 numbers dropping and the pace of vaccinations picking up, B.C.’s movie theatres are urging the province to let them open their doors in time to screen big summer blockbusters.
“We have A Quiet Place 2 coming out, that’s been waiting over a year. Fast and Furious, a Minions movie, there’s a Bond movie, a Top Gun movie, through the summer and fall, there’s Black Widow,” said Landmark Cinema’s CEO, Bill Walker. “The unfortunate reality for Canada is we are going to miss some of those.”
Movie theatres have been closed since November, when they were included in the provincial health officer’s ban on indoor events.
“I’m very concerned with Bonnie Henry’s use of the word 'event.' She uses it to define a sweeping amount of different activities, and we have repeatedly asked that we be taken out of the event category,” said Rio Theatre owner Corinne Lea.
”We really believe we have to get categorized properly,” said Walker, who believes theatres should be allowed to re-open when restaurants are able to welcome back in-person dining.
“It’s really frustrating to us when you talk about opening venues that have hundreds of demonstrated cases of transmission ahead of venues like movie theatres that have no cases of transmission,” he said.
Being included in November’s public health order is even more concerning after Dr. Henry said there wouldn’t be any big summer events allowed in B.C.
“When she says no big events, she needs to clarify that. What does big mean?” asked Lea. At the very least, she hopes the province allows theatres to re-open with a capacity of 50 guests per auditorium, which is how they operated last summer and fall.
“As far as I understand 50 people is not a big event, and we should be able to resume theatres being re-opened again this summer,” said Lea.
As highly anticipated summer movies start playing elsewhere, theatre owners predict British Columbians will quickly become frustrated if they’re not allowed to watch them on the big screen here.
“As we reach a certain point of vaccination, that’s again where we need to get purposeful on what are those low-risk venues we can encourage people to do,” said Walker. “We think we should be the venue to say, this is the something you can do, do it safely, and that provides the outlet people need.”