City Cinema scrambles to fill December schedule after studio pulls 3 films

For City Cinema in Charlottetown, the pandemic has meant overcoming obstacles. Now there are more.

In order to reopen in July, the theatre had to make a number of changes in order to comply with public health orders. Plexiglas was installed, stickers placed on the ground and seats marked off.

Attendance steadily improved through the summer months.

“The last couple of months, we’ve really kind of hit a stride and had several sellout shows,” said Marshall Harrington, the cinema’s manager. “And we were in a good situation for December to continue that trend.”

They had three films lined up that were set to debut in theatres in December. City Cinema had already sold tickets and bought ads promoting the screenings.

Films were set to run every night of the week, an increase from four nights a week the theatre was doing before.

Releases suspended

But, on Wednesday, days before the showings were set to begin, Harrington got an email from the studio responsible for those movies, saying that they were suspending the releases to theatres. 

“What they told us was that due to quite a few theatre closures across Canada, they cancelled their theatrical runs of these films in Canada. So they, unfortunately, had to pull those titles from our schedule,” he said. 

“It was deflating.” 

That left Harrington scrambling to fill the gaps. The theatre managed to find replacements, but the loss of the three films, as well as the situation around COVID-19, mean City Cinema has to return to the four showings per week.

For the cinema, it’s another challenge in an already challenging year. 

“We’ve had our challenges with reopening and adjusting to local health guidelines and trying to follow them as best we can,” said Harrington.

“It’s just another challenge that we need to overcome,” he said.

‘We didn’t see any hurt in keeping them’

At a time when theatres around the world are hurting because of the pandemic, Harrington said the move to pull the films was one that City Cinema didn’t quite understand. 

“From our perspective, we didn’t see any hurt in letting us keep the titles. But … they just pulled the whole run across Canada. So there really wasn’t much we could do.

Tickets were sold and ads promoting the films were bought. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

“We do understand it from their perspective. They’re looking at it as a big picture. But … for us, we didn’t see any hurt in keeping them,” he said.  

But, despite this, Harrington said he’s looking forward to the December lineup. 

More from CBC P.E.I.  

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