St. Lawrence County theaters dealing with safety plans before deciding on re-opening
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
Although New York State has given indoor movie theaters permission to reopen, the owner of the three in St. Lawrence County is still getting an understanding of the new pandemic safety measures and isn’t planning to reopen them right away.
Jeff Szot owns JS Cinemas, which owns and operates the Massena Movieplex, Canton American, Potsdam Roxy, as well as the Route 56 Auto Drive-in.“We’re not going to reopen immediately,” Szot said. “We’re reviewing guidelines and seeing what we can put in place to make it work.”
He says his biggest concern is safety of moviegoers and theater workers, and a big challenge to getting back up and running will be “making sure everybody’s social distancing, and those policies are followed.”
“At this time, there really isn’t too much to say. I know everybody’s struggling and everybody wants these big answers and everything,” Szot said. “New York state is keeping the (coronavirus infection) numbers low. I hate to see anything break out.”
Another huge problem, according to Szot, is major production companies aren’t releasing new films this year.
“Today, my booker said none of his locations in New York are opening this week, and he books for a lot of independent theaters through the Northeast,” Szot said Monday, Oct. 19.
Looking nationally, he says seeing companies like Regal Cinemas, a major international chain, struggle to stay afloat doesn’t seem a good omen for him.
“Regal, they’ve been open in states and they found they can’t survive, so they’ve closed down nationally, and internationally, too,” he said. “If they can’t come up with something that works for them, I don’t know how I’m supposed to.”
People who want to get out and see a movie can do so for two more weekends at the Route 56 Auto Drive-in, which is at 9783 State Route 56 in Massena.
Szot says he’s planning two kid-friendly movies for this coming weekend, “Monsters Inc.” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” For Halloween weekend, he’s planning two classic horror films.
He says Halloween weekend will most likely be the last drive-in showings of 2020. His seasonal permit from the Health Department expires Nov. 1, and with the cold weather coming they have to prepare the facility for the wintertime.
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