PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- With the popcorn and candy, going to the movie theater can be an experience and makes for a fun Friday night. However, coronavirus has left cinema seats empty for now.

Kelly Aubey, the owner of FilmBar in Phoenix, is now thinking of new ways to bring people films. “It’s quite a shock,” he said. “It’s really difficult for all of us, and from my position, I’ve got an awful lot of money and time wrapped up in this place. And for it to go away, it’s a hard thing to stomach.”

This week, Governor Doug Ducey announced that movie theaters would be among the businesses that can reopen on Saturday, May 16. Aubey doesn’t feel like he is ready to open his independent theater quite yet for a number of reasons.

While coronavirus and the health of the community is an obvious concern, Aubey says there is more to it than that. There’s also an inventory issue.

“The summertime is when films start to come out,” he told us. “Distributors have stopped distributing a lot of the new material right now because there's no place to put their films.”  

Harkins Theatres is one of the national chains also holding off on reopening. Below is a statement that it sent to Arizona’s Family:

"Although we are not planning to reopen our theatres now, we are anxious for the day that we can safely and responsibly welcome guests back into our theatres to watch movies on the big screen, where they are meant to be seen. As we make plans for our expected summer reopening, the health and well-being of our guests and team members remains our highest priority. During this intermission, our reopening team is diligently working with public health officials, industry partners, and governmental authorities to finalize our reopening plan and safety protocols. When guests return, some things will have changed to help ensure all of our safety, but the state-of-the-art movie-going experience, the hot delicious popcorn and treats, and the unsurpassed service that our guests expect will be the same.

For our business to reopen, another necessary criteria is a reliable and continuous slate of great new theatrical films. Currently, blockbuster films such as Warner Brothers’ "Tenet" and "Wonder Woman 1984," Disney’s "Mulan" and others are scheduled to release this summer. Harkins expects to open our theatres a couple of weeks in advance of these blockbusters, presenting unique programming of previously released or specialty films.

During our intermission, guests can still get some Harkins movie magic with fresh delicious Harkins popcorn and treats using our Curbside Pickup. We want to make movie night at home a little better until we can invite everyone back for the real movie experience."

Gov. Ducey’s office has released a list of guidelines which includes what theaters should do when they open back up. 

Aubey has one screening room that seats about 75 people. When he is open for business, Aubey says patrons will be spaced out and it will be at partial capacity. The FilmBar will also likely have extended hours so they have time to get people in and out between shows. 

Recently, Aubey had a fundraiser that helped the business breathe for a minute, but it's been difficult. FilmBar has been hosting virtual cinema and will soon be launching an online streaming platform. Aubey opened this spot about nine years ago so the community could have a place to come together.

“Film is about everything,” Aubey said. “It can be about everything, and it includes most arts in one package.”

Learn more about FilmBar here.


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