UPDATED MARCH 17 TO NOTE TEMPORARY THEATER CLOSURE: From 12 Monkeys to Contagion to zombie flicks, the movie industry loves viral-outbreak films. Now it’s starring in a real-life one.
Though the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is exponentially less serious than the health crises depicted in Hollywood disaster films, the outbreak has led to the temporary closure of Maitland’s Enzian Theater and the postponement of the Florida Film Festival. The arthouse cinema announced on Monday that it will be closed through April 2 and will tentatively reopen on April 3, and, in an e-mail to volunteers, said it will delay its festival.
Regarding the temporary closure of the theater, Janie Pope, director of development and public relations, said, “We believe this is the best course of action to ensure the safety of our patrons and our staff. As a 501(c)(3) organization, the temporary closure of both our theater and Eden Bar is not without financial burden. We are very grateful to our supporters and appreciate any contributions made to help Enzian and its staff during this time.”
The overall film industry is facing an economic calamity due to the prohibition of large public gatherings. And though most cinema chains, such as AMC and Regal Cinemas, were initially content to limit attendance to 50 percent, they are now starting to close completely. American cinemas seem to be taking a cue from France, which limited attendance to 100 people in each auditorium before eventually announcing theaters would close.
Cinema closures are due partially to lack of content, as the openings of films such as Mulan, Fast & Furious 9, A Quiet Place Part II and No Time to Die have been postponed, leaving the industry with no major releases for the rest of March. Netflix’s decision to halt production for the next two weeks, which The New York Times first reported on March 13, could also produce a ripple effect. And the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment announced on Twitter on March 16, “In light of the declaration of emergency in the City of Miami, we will not be granting film permits until further notice. Permits that have been approved are hereby revoked.”
One thing is certain: This story’s ending remains to be written.
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