Broken projector, safety prevent Town Hall Theatre from reopening immediately
By Debra Moore
Movie theaters have been given the green light to reopen by the state, but it will be a couple of months before the Town Hall Theatre in Quincy can welcome the public.
The first hurdle is replacing a piece of the projector that broke down when the system was shut off during the stay-at-home order. “When we turned the system off, it fried the internal media block,” said Roxanne Valladao, executive director of Plumas Arts, the entity that operates the theater.
She explained that movie theaters across the country suffered the same fate, so the $7,500 replacement part is on back order. While it should arrive sometime this month, it won’t be able to be installed until mid-July at a cost of an additional $2,500. “It’s an expense we can ill afford when all of our fundraising events have had to be canceled,” she said.
In addition to the equipment, Valladao said there are other logistical considerations. For example, the theater can be at a maximum of 20 percent capacity with social distancing, so seating would need to be adjusted. There would be additional cleaning protocols to maintain, and how to handle concessions — a major revenue source — also would need to be determined.
“We’re looking to open cautiously and safely,” Valladao said. She has discussed the issue with public health officials and will work with them on a reopening plan, which she thinks could be sometime in August.
Another issue – not unique to the Town Hall Theatre — is movie availability. Studios are holding major releases, leaving theaters to show previously run fare. “Will people pay to see what they can watch at home?” she asked. With the advent of Disney+, some of the movies that she would hope to show are no longer available.
There is also the possibility that ticket prices might have to increase to offset the added costs of operation. “There is so much unknown,” Valladao said, “but we will reopen.”