LA JOLLA, Calif. – A La Jolla movie theater is among the first to welcome back guests in San Diego County as venues such as museums and theaters last week received clearance to reopen.
While other industries have endured a rollercoaster ride of closings and openings since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, movie theaters largely have remained closed. But with new guidance allowing 25% capacity indoors, owners of The LOT, which has locations in Liberty Station and La Jolla, see the recent moves as a small step in the right direction.
“Finally, on Friday, we got the word and it was great news,” The LOT CEO Adolfo Fastlicht said. “We were elated.”
In recent months, the theaters had to get creative by showing older movies outdoors and keeping up part of their food and beverage operation. But ultimately, bringing back the indoor theater experience was the goal, which some other venues lobbied for at the local and state level.
Employees of The LOT used the downtime to prepare for the eventuality of reopening in a COVID-19 world, revamping their mobile app and instituting new sanitation measures inside the facilities.
But plenty of obstacles remain for the business, Fastlicht said.
“It’s a huge challenge,” he said. “We cannot make any money even if we sell out at 25% capacity.”
Another involves the current selection of new movies available to show at the theater. As production ground to a halt, release dates on some major motion pictures have been pushed out.
Usually, The LOT has roughly seven movies available; as of Tuesday, they have just two showing.
“We do anticipate as cinemas reopen, as people come back to want to watch movies, the studios will hopefully bring back some of the movies that at least for now they’ve pushed further along in the future,” Fastlicht said.