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Local Movie Theaters Reopen With Limited Capacity

Rachael McDonald

Some movie theaters are resuming in-person showings as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19. That includes Regal Cinemas in Eugene and Albany, which reopened last weekend.

The Broadway Metro in downtown Eugene had just finished a major expansion when the pandemic hit. The popular theater stayed afloat by offering DVD rentals and home delivery of popcorn, candy, and beer. Managing Director Edward Schiessl said that trickle of income helped stave off financial freefall.

“We’ve gotten a handful of grants,” Schiessl said. “We’ve taken out several loans and we’ve maxed out our personal credit lines and so far that has been enough to keep us from going into default on any of our obligations so I’m going to call that a win.”

The Metro started offering private screenings several months ago. And starting Memorial Day weekend, they’ll open the theater to public screenings.

“We have what we’re calling vax on masks off shows where proof of vaccination is required and masks don’t have to be worn while you’re in the auditorium,” Schiessl said. “And we also have COVID safe shows where we’re keeping the preexisting distancing and mask rules in place and then our third option is we’ll continue to offer private screenings for groups of all sizes.”

In Florence, City Lights Theater reopened on May 14 for the 4th time since the original pandemic shutdown. Owner Michael Falter told KLCC in an email:

“As for how we are doing: we are hosting very happy people coming to the theatre—though our box office is obviously very depressed from pre-pandemic levels. We are awaiting bigger titles to help draw folks back to movie going. A Quiet Place 2 and Cruella this weekend are expected to do well and F9 just shattered records in China and Southeast Asia ($162 million opening weekend) and it opens June 25 in the US.” 

Falter added that they’re anxious to see Lane County move to moderate or low risk for COVID-19 so they can increase capacity as it is currently difficult to break even.

Copyright 2021 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.
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