Theaters, entertainment venues continue to struggle to survive pandemic


MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Restaurants and entertainment venues say they are now struggling with the new 9:30 p.m. cut-off time as the state rolls back to Phase 2.1.

The theaters at Mystic Luxury Cinemas are cleaned and disinfected each night for the movie-goers who still show up.

“Our attendance has dropped quite a bit, by about 90 percent,” said owner Bill Dougherty.

It still costs him several thousand dollars a month to run the longtime theater, which was just renovated with new seats designed for social distancing. 

“The seats are six feet front and back and then also we have a program that will automatically kick out two seats on each side of you,” said Dougherty.

Capacity right now is at 50 percent but that doesn’t seem to be a problem because, unfortunately, Dougherty says a lot of people aren’t coming to the movies. In part because of COVID concerns, but also because Hollywood isn’t releasing new movies to these theaters.

“We’ve missed quite a few blockbusters here during the summer and now in the fall,” said Dougherty who says the release of the new James Bond movie has been postponed a few times.

With Phase 3 reopening moving back to Phase 2.1 he’s also been forced to skew movie times earlier so they end by the 9:30 p.m. cutoff.

The Phoenix in Pawcatuck has also had to end live acts a lot earlier in the night. This new change is costing them even more business as they struggle just to make payroll.

“We’ve had no public events, none since march,” said Steve Sigel, Executive Director at the Garde Arts Center in New London which has had to postpone about 25 shows. 

They’ve been able to do some private webcasts and live-streaming and have opened up their building to schools needing more safe spaces for students. But the costs of keeping the lights on is high. 

“It basically costs us between $50,000 and $70,000 a month,” said Sigel.

Some money comes from marquee messages, but donations are needed by both theaters. 

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