Michael Ordona’s piece in today’s L.A. Times Calendar section — headlined “Movie theater safety during COVID, the sequel: This time it’s personal” —
and the latest newsletter from the National Association of Theatre Owners got Laemmle Theatres President Greg Laemmle thinking about the state of American arthouse exhibition:
“In addition to #CinemaSafe measures, Laemmle Theatres is providing a one-seat lateral buffer even though this is not required. You never have to share an armrest with someone who isn’t part of your party. And in addition to the distancing benefit, the reduced capacity also likely enhances the ability of the ventilation system to clear the air.
“For those who are vaxxed and boosted, there’s arguably a greater risk to one’s health in driving to the theatre than the likelihood of getting sick from an infection acquired while in the theatre (or other “regular” activity). And that’s not me saying that. See journalist David Leonhardt’s quote in the New York Times daily email for January 25, 2022:
“It’s a remarkable disconnect between perception and reality. A majority of the boosted say they are worried about getting sick from Covid. In truth, riding in a car presents more danger to most of them than the virus does.”
“If people want to wait another week or two to let numbers continue to drop, I can’t argue with that. But with Oscar nominations coming on February 8, and absent a new variant, now is the time to show that arthouse audiences still want to support the theatrical experience. With that show of support, distributors will feel confident that movie theatres are back for all audiences and all types of films. Without that show of support, you can expect a future where going to a movie theatre is just for blockbusters like SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.”
Learn more about Laemmle Theatres’ health and safety measures to combat the pandemic here.