Ontario movie theatres will be back in business on Friday as the province moves into Step 3 of reopening in the heat of summer movie season, but strict capacity limits have sent a chill through exhibitors’ hopes of drawing the big crowds for the latest blockbusters.
It’s another twist in the storyline for movie exhibitors that hope to recover whatever business they can from what’s usually the busiest time of the year.
Making those goals tougher are the province’s new COVID-19 rules which say cinemas can operate at a maximum capacity of 50 per cent inside each auditorium and a cap of 1,000 people within the entire building.
Ellis Jacob, chief executive of the country’s largest exhibitor, Cineplex Inc., said it’s those overarching capacity limits that he considers “unfair,” as they put all theatres — no matter their size — under the same restrictions.
Smaller cinemas with fewer screens, for instance, will need to follow the same guidelines as megaplexes that often have more than 20, which could mean Cineplex will be forced to turn away moviegoers at some of its bigger locations.