How local theaters are handling coronavirus

Regal announced it would be closing all of its theaters this week
Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Regal Cinemas announced Monday it will be closing all of its theaters at the end of the day on Thursday. That includes six locations in Central Virginia, with no date of when they could reopen. The theater chain says the closures reflect “an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape” due to the pandemic. NBC12 checked in with other local theaters to see how they’re managing.

The Byrd Theatre, like so many other businesses, closed in the middle of March. It’s reopened, but only for donors. Now, the business is down by 75 percent.

Stacy Shaw, the theatre’s Executive Director, says the decision was made after a survey was sent out to patrons.

“30 percent said we’re not really comfortable until there’s a vaccine, and then the other 70 percent said we really miss you guys but we’re okay right now,” said Shaw.

Now, you’re only allowed to watch a movie inside if you donate a certain amount.

“We’re taking a very conservative approach in that we’re making the theatre available when we know how many people will be here when we know that money can help support us,” said Shaw.

Meanwhile, at the Ashland Theatre, you can also pay to have a special screening inside, but they’re doing a drive-in theater as well.

“So we’ve definitely seen a loss in business; we were completely closed from March to June, and even with our outdoor drive-in, we can only fit 26 cars in the slot,” said Cathy Buckenmaier, General Manager, Ashland Theatre.

The Ashland Theatre is seeing about thirty percent of the business they usually do and their drive-in series will be ending at the end of October.

“We are definitely concerned about our ability what our operations will look like in the winter when we can’t do things outside,” said Buckenmaier.

But there is some good news at the Goochland Drive-In Theater.

“We’ve had a lot of new customers try us out, out of a lack of you know other options, which has been great,” said John Heidel, owner.

Heidel wouldn’t go into specifics about numbers but did say it’s been a good year.

“It’s been a good year when we thought it wasn’t going to be a good year if that’s fair,” said Heidel.

Christmastime at the Byrd is for many a yearly tradition, the theatre says it will definitely be different this year, but they’re working on a plan.

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