Rejoice, film fans! Movie theaters in New York City are finally opening their doors again, but at a limited capacity.
Theaters across the Big Apple can reopen Friday at a 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in February.
Film star Liam Neeson even showed up at the 7 p.m. showing of “The Marksman” at AMC Theaters in Lincoln Square to welcome filmgoers back.
“There was this quiet celebration of the return of the movie,” Kristina Bumphrey, a photographer, told PIX11 News. “And he talked about his love of movies and how special it is to be in a dark space,” she added.
Masks, social distancing and other safety protocols must be in place, and the city will follow the same guidance that was issued for the rest of the state when movie theaters reopened in October, including proper ventilation.
COVID testing will not be required for reopening, the governor said.
The reopening comes nearly a year after Cuomo shuttered movie theaters statewide in mid-March last year, along with concert venues and nightclubs as part of efforts to limit spread of COVID-19 in crowded, indoor settings.
The move drew praise from theater owners who pushed for months for the governor to ease restrictions, and who hope Cuomo will soon expand capacity to 50%.
Currently, movie theater workers are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but the state is looking to expand eligibility as more vaccines become available.
Many smaller Independent theaters, like Cobble Hill Cinema, just can’t make ends meet with 25% capacity.
“It might pay our my electric and heat, but not our mortgages,” Andrew Elgart, the operator of Cobble Hill Cinemas, told PIX11 News.
Cobble Hill Cinemas, a family run business for three decades with screens in Williamsburg and Kew Gardens, is hopeful they’ll be able to open just on weekends by the end of this month, now that grant money from the shuttered venues act will be heading their way.
“This should keep us open and get people to come out and we can eventually make profit and run a business that we enjoy,” Elgart said.
Also now open are The Angelika Film Centre, Cinema 1,2,3, Village East and IFC. The Film Forum plans to open April 2 and films at Lincoln Center sometime in late Spring.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.