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Audio Feature: Most local movie theaters still closed, and in danger of staying that way

Oct 10, 2020 10:00 pm

That's the trailer for Tenet the biggest Hollywood blockbuster to open in movie theaters around the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But the film has not opened in New York, as state restrictions still do not allow indoor movie theatres to operate. The Center for Disease Control still considers watching movies indoors with crowds a high risk activity. Coronavirus is known to spread through breath, and sitting still indoors with many other people breathing is not considered a safe practice now. Locally just three movie theaters have been open this summer. Time and Space Limited in Hudson showed older films and held concerts with local musicians in its outdoor parking lot, and, after starting later then usual, Coxsackie's Hi-Way Drive-In and the Greenville Drive-In both showed films this summer. The Greenville Drive-In, after showing mostly older movies and a few selections from the Woodstock Film Festival, shut down prematurely last week with the Oct. 7 windstorm closing things a night early. Until recently, even the outdoor theaters did not have much to show, as most release dates keep being pushed back. But the Hi-Way Drive-In is now operating with brand-new movies most weekends. Drive-in theaters are only allowed to open at 50 percent capacity, so things have not been easy. And Warner Bros. is not letting New York drive-ins screen Tenet to keep the film’s complicated plot and surprises secret. Natasha Vaughn of Columbia-Greene Media spoke with the owners of the Hi-Way Drive-In in Coxsackie. “It seems like we’re right on track to do about the same amount of gross that we’ve always done. Business picked up a little bit because it was the safest thing they could do. We saw an awful lot of new faces. That’s the good news — lots of new people — and they have made themselves regulars,” said Roger Babcock. But there are more local indoor theaters, and they are not allowed to open. Both the Crandell Theatre in Chatham and The Community Theatre in Catskill report they took the the Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government earlier this year to stay in business. “Now it’s pretty much just a waiting game. Trying to make sure you’re still able to pay the taxes or utilities, roofs can still leak, equipment needs to be maintained. Right now it’s a tightrope that theaters are walking,” said Phillip Maisano, owner of The Community Theatre. The Orpheum Theatre in Saugerties has not posted an update on its Facebook page since August, and the Catskill Mountain Foundation website says, "the movie theaters in Hunter and Tannersville are closed until further notice, as New York State tries to contain the spread of COVID-19." The Windham Theater website claims that it is "opening real soon... awaiting final approval from Governor Cuomo." Greenville's Drive-In may be more realistic, saying on its website it is reopening on May 8, 2021. “The governor’s mandate to keep us dark is very hard on us as well as all the theaters as well as the moviemakers, distributors and more who make a living on entertainment that is seen in the cinema. People are eager to share the movie experience and we are sad to be closed,” TSL's Linda Mussmann told HudsonValley360.com.
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