Seven months to the day after movie theaters in New York State closed their doors, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that cinemas in Upstate regions with low COVID positive rates will finally be allowed to re-open. Beginning this Friday October 23rd, theaters will be able to accommodate 50 people per auditorium or 25% of each room’s seat count — whichever comes first.
Following a mid-summer re-opening in most of the country, Regal Cinemas closed all of its North American locations, with the exception of seven theaters in California, on Oct. 8. The Capital Region was once a Regal dominated town. It still has locations at the Crossgates Mall and Colonie Center in Albany and multiplexes in East Greenbush and Clifton Park. (Interestingly, Regal Crossgates was getting ready to undergo a complete makeover before COVID hit.)
But in Feb. 2013, Regal closed its Latham, NY location due to low attendance and an empty mall that literally surrounded the theater. And over the past 15 years, other chains have tried to come-in and give Regal a run for its money. The Bow Tie Cinemas Movieland 6 in Schenectady opened in May 2007, right next to performing arts icon Proctors. In Oct. 2013, Bow Tie also re-vamped an old Regal location at the Wilton Mall and built a new one shortly down the road in Saratoga. Both have their version of IMAX and Regal’s RPX, the BTX.
Landmark Theatres took over Albany’s iconic Spectrum 8 in Nov. 2015. Several of the auditoriums are about 50-60 seats total. So you’re looking at 12 to 15 available tickets. A few of their other rooms are bigger and will come closer to totaling at 50. The Spectrum has always attracted an older crowd of moviegoers, and it will be interesting to see if they’ll come out like the good ol’ days.
Zurich Cinemas operates the Rotterdam Square Mall Cinema 7, which has six solid-size auditoriums. The “bonus” seventh is like a private screening room. It’s very cool.
Independents also do well in the Capital Region, including the Scotia Cinema. Normally a second-run theater, I wonder if they’ll get some first-run releases to shake things up (or maybe show “TENET”, which has already been out for nearly two months, right out of the gate). The Crandell Theatre, which would’ve held its annual FilmColumbia festival right about now, could make some similar moves.
And the Madison Theatre, which finally re-opened in December after years (and I mean years) of delays, has four screens to show some big and smaller releases that Hollywood can offer over the next several months.
I haven’t seen in a movie at an indoor theater in the state of NY since March 12th. Though I’ve been getting lots of screeners from the studios in the seven months since, I look forward to leaving my house and… safely… going to see a new film nearby.