Tom Ranieri has owned and operated Cinema 21 in Portland for nearly 40 years, but he’s never seen audiences like the ones earlier this summer.
“There was such a pent-up demand for watching movies that our July was an incredibly strong month for us,” Ranieri says.
But following the spread of the delta variant, Ranieri says things changed dramatically as hesitant moviegoers stayed home.
“We saw grosses go way down again,” he says of the financial impact. “And to be totally honest, we’re concerned about staying open [now].”
Cinema 21 has teamed up with a group of theaters that includes Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater and Living Room Theaters in Portland, as well as Broadway Metro in Eugene, to enact stricter rules for entry. Starting this week, all guests must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result completed within 72 hours of attending a show.
“What we’re trying to do is get the idea across that this is a safe place,” Cinema 21′s Ranieri says.
Ranieri hopes the changes will bring back cinephiles who are concerned about COVID-19. So far, he says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.