SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Following the recommendation of health officials, Metropolitan Theaters has temporarily closed its seven cinemas located between Santa Barbara and Goleta.
“Anywhere where there’s going to be a large gathering of people, it’s a really good idea just to shut it down,” Santa Barbara City College Student Andrew Moore said. “Especially a movie theater, where everybody is pretty close in the seats if it’s full.”
The company says the decision was made before the Santa Barbara City Council ordered all movie theaters to close.
“Number one priority is to make sure theatergoers and employees are safe,” Metropolitan Theaters marketing and communications vice president Natalie Eig said. “It wasn’t a hard decision, it was a necessary decision.”
Last week, the theater chain tried to stay open while implementing strict safety measures with limited seating of just 100 people per movie.
As a result of the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. Box Office earned just $55 million this past weekend, marking its worst numbers in more than two decades.
“This has been the worst it’s been in 22 years,” Eig added. “It’s definitely taken a toll on the industry.”
As of now, Metropolitan Theaters plan on reopening as soon as April 7.
“We want everybody to be able to come back to the theater feeling confident and being assured that we’re doing everything we can to create a safe environment,” Eig said.
However, some believe this is too quick a turnaround.
“I hope they’re going to open it so we can go to the movies,” foreign exchange student Jaas Maaskant said. “I think it’s going to take a month or two months before things like that can open again.”
“I would say probably more like a month give or take,” Moore said. “It really just depends on how we handle this virus and if it gets out of control.”
For the time being, some must find a new way to entertain themselves without the pleasure of going to the movies.
“Just sitting at home,” foreign exchange student Dennis Berkman said. “That’s the only thing we can do these days.
“We don’t really have much to do now,” Maaskant said. “We have our homework and we can watch Netflix.”
At the end of March, Metropolitan Theaters will assess whether or not to open reopen. They’ll update the public on this decision through their website.