The CEO of Landmark Cinemas Canada says the movie-going experience isn’t going to be another victim of COVID.
Bill Walker told us that once public gathering restrictions are lifted, Landmark will take steps to, once again, light up screens across the country.
That includes ones at Landmark theatres in Courtenay, Campbell River, Nanaimo, and Port Alberni.
Walker says with good fortune, the company has been able to survive this crisis, and that financially speaking, they are ready and waiting to reopen.
“Our theatres have been closed since November,” he added. “Our managers have been there, busy, trying to do the best we can with delivery and take-out (concession) sales, to keep them employed, but ultimately, we’re just excited to welcome customers back in to enjoy the movies again.”
He added that everyone is eager to get back to some form of normalcy, and that includes catching a movie that’s not in a living room.
“We’re here and still standing because we believe that there’s something different about seeing a movie in a cinema. And we know that from a business perspective, there is something very different about the economics of movie-going, versus how this content is monetized and seen in the home.”
Walker said they haven’t been given any feedback on a potential reopening plan.
“It’s funny, last spring, when everyone was contemplating this first attempt at reopening, there was a whole lot of consultation, industry engagement, town hall calls, we had an opportunity to really understand what the thought process was for the reopening phase,” he said.
“It doesn’t seem so much this time that (the) government has been as engaged in trying to understand what businesses can do and really looking at the data at what’s operated safely and what hasn’t.”
With that in mind, Walker said the protocols that were in place before shutdown No. 2, ensured that going to the theatre was a COVID-safe experience.
“We’re one business that’s operated safely in all provinces throughout the pandemic,” he noted. “In any of the periods that we were permitted to operate, there’s not one documented case of transmission or even suspected transmission, that happened amongst our employees or amongst our guests, because theatres are uniquely positioned to operate safely during a pandemic.”
That, he said, is why when restaurants are allowed to reopen to dine-in customers, there is no rational approach that says theatres should not be opened, as well.
This newest incarnation will feature brand-new, 2021-made movies, Walker promised.
“We opened last summer and we frankly didn’t have any content, and so we were digging back into the archives to play some interesting things that people hadn’t seen on the big screen for a really long time,” he said.
“The good news is, as we look at what’s happening in the U.S. and the release of more new content, we have lots of interesting stuff… that’s going to be playing in movie theatres in North America. The question is going to be, how many theatres in Canada are open to play that new content? But whenever that is, whether it’s in mid-June, late June… when we get the green light to reopen, movies are being released and some big, blockbuster, franchise-type movies. So there’s going to be something interesting to compel people to get back out and have that shared experience on the big screen.”