You are reading

Movie Theaters Permitted to Reopen Friday, But Some Queens Indie Operators Are Weighing Up Their Options

Cinemart on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills (Photo: Queens Post)

March 2, 2021 By Christina Santucci

Movie theaters across New York City can usher in patrons Friday — for the first time in nearly a year — but some cinema operators in Queens will not be opening their doors just yet.

Three independent cinemas in Queens are among those that will not be opening Friday.

The owner of the Bombay Theatre in Fresh Meadows plans to wait before reopening, while the owners of Cinemart in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens Cinemas both said they hope to welcome back movie goers at the end of March.

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that movie theaters in New York City could restart showings March 5 at 25 percent capacity and a maximum of 50 patrons.

Some larger Queens theaters are already selling tickets for later this week. But indie cinema owners said they’ve been trying to figure out the logistics — and even feasibility — of reopening on short notice and with tight limits on patrons.

Mohammad Asif, who owns the Bombay Theatre, said the current capacity limits would only allow for 50 people inside his 400-person cinema, which has one viewing room.

“If the occupancy doesn’t go up, what can we do with 50 people?” he said. “You will be losing money every week.”

The Bombay Theatre also focuses on Bollywood movies, and the next major release date is in May. Asif hoped by then the cap on patrons will be increased. “We want to wait and see what happens,” he said.

The owner of Kew Gardens Cinema said in an email Monday he was targeting the end of March for reopening. On its Facebook page, the cinema asked for patience from movie-goers as it worked to “get all the inner workings in order.”

Meanwhile, Nicolas Nicolaou, who owns Cinemart in Forest Hills as well as two other theaters – one in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn, also said he needed more time before welcoming back patrons.

“We are trying to get things together and 100 percent prepared before we reopen,” said  “It’s a year anyway. What’s another three or four weeks?”

His theater in Manhattan flooded about two weeks ago — just days before Cuomo’s announcement — and he has been focused on making repairs at that location. “The pipes froze and we have extensive damage,” he said.

Plus, there is still some work to do in Queens — training staff and installing new safety measures. Cinemart is updating its ticketing software, so when patrons purchase assigned seats online adjacent ones will be blocked off so as to abide by social distancing requirements.

And even though Nicolaou is happy to be able to reopen, he didn’t expect to make a profit with the current capacity limits.

“The truth is you will not be able to pay your expenses at 25 percent,” he said, explaining that the state would allow 50 percent capacity in the coming months.

Nicholaou said it seemed senseless that theaters were closed for so long — even as in-door dining and gyms reopened.

“You go to a restaurant with no mask, face to face with somebody eating,” he said. “Or you go to the gyms, people are huffing and puffing.”

Asif agreed. “Movie theaters should have been opened with limited capacity,” he said. “They have better ventilation systems than many restaurants.”

New York City movie theaters have been shuttered since last March to reduce the spread of Covid-19 — even as cinemas in some parts of the state were allowed to reopen in October.

Small theater owners like Nicolaou and Asif are also waiting to see if they will be able to access relief funds from the $15 billion grant program, Save Our Stages, created by Congress in December.

Elsewhere in Queens — at least five movie theaters are expected to reopen March 5: Main Street Cinemas in Kew Gardens Hills, the Bayside and Fresh Meadows locations of AMC Theatre and the College Point and Jamaica Multiplexes.

It is unclear when Regal, which has movie theaters in Astoria, Glendale and Forest Hills, will welcome back patrons. The company released a statement on Twitter Feb. 25, saying it was “encouraged” by Cuomo’s announcement that theaters could reopen in the city.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Queens Botanical Garden hosts Lunar New Year celebration with globally beloved Miffy

About 4,200 people joined the world-renowned beloved rabbit Miffy to ring in the Year of the Rabbit at Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration included a visit from Councilman Shekar Krishnan, who gave remarks, followed by a program of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed a lion dance performance, zodiac crafts, demonstrations, lucky plant sales and more. Miffy was in attendance for photos, story time and to greet children throughout the event.

Mets owner Steve Cohen hosts second community visioning session regarding development of area around Citi Field

Hundreds of community residents and leaders gathered at the Piazza Club inside Citi Field to participate in a visioning session regarding the development of a nearby 50-acre lot. This marked the second visioning session New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has hosted at Citi Field in January as he attempts to collect as much community feedback regarding the development as possible.

Attendees of the visioning session went to a series of interactive stations, sharing what mattered most to them when it came to improving the area around Citi Field, including preferred forms of year-round entertainment, ability to access different forms of transportation and attainable local jobs and training. Information and input was collected from the community in how they would like to see the lot utilized. A common theme among many of those who took part in the visioning session was the desire to see something built there that would bring a lot of economic opportunity to the community and provide year-round entertainment.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens doctor aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health

With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, a cardiologist from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital spoke with QNS about the importance of heart health for women.

According to attending cardiologist Dr. Joanna Troulakis, approximately 400,000 women die as a result of cardiovascular diseases each year in the United States. She noted that women have suffered more cardiovascular disease deaths than men in recent years. When it comes to heart attacks, the mortality rate for women is higher than men.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.