POOLER, Ga. (WSAV) – Governor Brian Kemp has given the green light for movie theaters to reopen but some have decided to stay closed.
Studios have decided to postpone new releases until later this year. Royal Cinemas & IMAX in Pooler have decided to keep their doors closed to protect their staff and moviegoers. Seats will remain empty after owner Falgun Patel decided not to reopen despite Governor Kemp giving the go-ahead.
“First and foremost the main reason is public safety and I’m actually worried about the safety of my staff as well and I just don’t think that I want to jeopardize anyone’s health,” Patel said.
The movie theater decided to close out of caution for the public seeing that COVID-19 has been ramping up in the state. Patel said he’s just not ready to re-open.
“We posted something on Facebook about opening Monday and about 95 to 98 percent of the people have actually said that we’re so happy that you’re not opening now. Whenever you open later we will support you,” Patel said.
Patel said production studios in Hollywood, California have halted movie productions until July meaning no new releases any time soon. Founder of the Savannah Film Alliance Charles Bowen said it’s affecting Savannah’s local film industry.
“It’s been catastrophic for the people that actually work in that industry. It’s come to a complete standstill. I mean you’re talking about not only film productions but venues and theaters,” Bowen said.
Bowen said right now Savannah could have been home to several upcoming productions but that’s now all on hold since there’s no specific way to effectively socially distance a cast and crew.
“You have a very diverse group of people and a large group of people that have to work very closely together in order to make a movie so there are a lot of factors that are going to go into how do you restart production,” Bowen said.
With little to no content to choose from Patel said when the time is right, he’ll consider reopening with a full plan in place to protect his staff and customers.
“We do sanitize our theaters every show. So in between every show we go in, we clean the theaters, we sweep, clean it, and sanitize it. That has been done way before all of this started,” Patel said.
Royal Cinemas & IMAX has been out of business for 40 days so far and if it continues for months Patel says they could be out of millions of dollars.