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Back to the future? – Palace Amusement considers return of drive-in theatres | Entertainment


Drive-through theatres may be resurrected in the near future as Palace Amusement reveals that it is actively pursuing other means by which movie lovers can once again enjoy their cinematic pleasures.

In an interview with THE STAR, Melanie Graham, marketing manager at Palace Amusement, revealed that since movie theatres have been closed, there has been a renewed interest in bringing back drive-in spaces.

“We did operate the drive-ins years ago and so it is something that we are accustomed to at Palace Amusement, but it has kind of become a dinosaur. Nevertheless, we have had a number of people suggesting that now is the time for a drive-in theatre, and so we will see what happens,” she said. “We know that not everyone is comfortable just yet with the idea of being in an enclosed space such as the auditorium, and so I’m hopeful that if we can find our way, it will work. It will be an additional offering for our patrons.”

But Graham said that having not had any income for almost four months, to set up drive-in theatres would incur additional costs.

“We don’t have that kind of equipment lying around and so we would have to source those and it is very expensive, especially now that we have gone to digital,” she said. “We would have to think greatly about the feasibility.”

If it does become a possibility, Graham says Palace Amusement will be carrying out operations similar to that taking place in other countries, particularly as it relates to what movies are shown.

Recover the costs

“Film distributors have been saying that until they feel people will really turn out to see their productions, they will not be putting out the usual big blockbusters because those cost a lot of money to make and they have to make sure that they recover the costs,” she said. “What they (theatres overseas) have been showing are films that have been popular. Not necessarily from way back when, but in recent times. There are also some pictures that are still going to try for a release like Tenet and Mulan, which are scheduled to open in July. We would also show the movies that were showing when we had to close, like Bad Boys.”

Jamaican movie theatres have been closed since March 14 as a precautionary measure to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

But with churches, theme parks and other recreational activities being reopened, albeit with restrictions, Graham believes a time frame can now be given for the reopening of cinemas.

“We’re not sure exactly what category we fit into because we know they have said they want to reopen entertainment, and we don’t know if we fall in that category or not. I would assume so, but nobody has said anything so we’re not sure where we are,” she said. “We have nearly 300 members of staff that we have had to lay off and they are in a bad way. On our end, we have a lot of standing charges that we cannot avoid and there is absolutely nothing coming in. It has been extremely difficult.”

Graham said that she couldn’t give an exact figure for the actual overhead fallout.

“But what I can tell you is that in the three-month period, based on where we were last year, we would have made approximately J$300 million. That $300 million, though, would not have been all for us. Out of that we would have had to pay film distribution, staff, utilities. But it would have been enough to carry on operations; buy goods, honour payroll. We just want a time frame as to when we can reopen,” she said.



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