Much of the attention on the plight of exhibitors has focused on large national chains and their struggles to navigate successfully through the challenges presented by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. However, 12% of the theatre locations in the US are operated by small businesses and non-profits, responsible for either one or two small theatres. This article from the New York Times looks at efforts by NYC’s indie-cinemas to survive and stay relevant. Some can tap into the resources of deep-pocketed owners, while others are forced to rely on a patchwork of government relief programs, contributions from loyal supports from the community, and offering online “virtual” cinema screenings. One long-term advantage they may have is that they rely less than mainstream commercial theatres on the flow of blockbusters put out by Hollywood’s major studios. However resourceful they may be, the sudden collapse of revenues – which in many locations are down more than 85% from 2019 levels – presents extreme challenges for continued operation.
See also “It’s Going Away”: A Small Movie Theater Struggles to Survive (New York Times)