Movie theatres are open for business

One question I often get is ‘Keith, do you miss going to the movies?’ Yes and no. Yes, for the simple fact that I love watching a film the way it was intended to be seen, in the theatre. I love seeing a movie with an audience. No, only because in 2021 when we have every streaming service at our disposal it makes seeing films at home, and anywhere quite frankly, so simple.

But then I think about ‘John’. John is an employee at one of the theatres here in Ottawa. He is as passionate about movies as anyone you will meet. As we lived through the lockdowns, sure it sucked for us that we couldn’t go to different places, but it sucked more for him because of all of those hours he would have been working are now gone.

I constantly hear ‘support local’ and ‘support our community businesses’ well, movie theatres fall into that category. Now I realize that many people don’t feel safe going to the theatre, or many places for that matter, but as someone who takes this pandemic seriously and has ventured to the theatre several times over the past year, I honestly feel it is one of the safest places to go. There aren’t a lot of people there, they follow strict cleaning protocols . . . and did I mention the popcorn???

But don’t just take my word for it, recently I spoke with Jill Munro, who is the general manager of Cineplex South Keys. We had a discussion about what Cineplex is doing to keep their guests safe.

OLM: How has it been for you and your staff this last while with the uncertainty of being open and being closed? From a morale standpoint how has it been?

Jill Munro: For us we have actually been very lucky. Cineplex kept on the full-time management teams and we have been running deliveries through Uber Easts and Skip the Dishes, so we have still been able to offer all our regular concession items that our guests have come to know and love especially our popcorn and to keep everyone thinking of us.

OLM: People, in general,  have voiced concern over leaving their houses. Can you take a moment and discuss some of the precautions you and your staff have implemented to make your guests feel safe?

JM: Absolutely. We put so many new safety measures into place on top of all of our regular cleaning measuring. We have social distancing within all of our theatres. We have every other row empty, and we have three seats in between every set of two seats so we can maintain that social distancing throughout the auditorium. We have concession line tickets throughout the building so that way guests can social distance even when they are waiting in the concession line. We have contactless payments set up. We have staggered our showtimes so that when guests are coming in and out of the building that we cans stay under the max building capacity that has been set out by the province.  We also have plexiglass shields set up for our employees who are working the concession stands so that they have that extra safety measure in place. We also have screening when you come into the building so that when guests come in we can make sure they are symptom free before they even come into the building to see a movie.

OLM: Can you take a moment and talk about Private Movie Nights?

JM: Private Movie Nights are something new that we have started offering during the pandemic that has allowed guests to rent out a movie theatre for their own private use. To choose from thousands of movies from family classics like ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ right up to new releases like ‘Wonder Woman’ so that way they can come in with their own family or a small group of friends where they can social distance in the auditorium with their cohorts but this way they can spend time face to face watching movies and enjoy a bit of normalcy in this pandemic.

OLM: What is the capacity you are working within for the overall theatre?

JM: So right now, the Province of Ontario has set us with a maximum capacity of 50 people.

OLM: Do you anticipate as new releases are coming out you will have those releases as well?

JM: Absolutely. We have got a great film lineup coming down the pipeline for all of our guests to enjoy. We are eager to have our guests back.