Several other smaller art houses and cinemas in the city have a surprising safety net – great business owners who help protect them from oblivion. The Théâtre de Paris is now operated by Netflix. The Angelika Film Center & Cafe on Houston Street is part of a chain of theaters owned by Reading International, a multinational listed company. The parent company of the IFC Center is AMC Networks. The Quad is owned by billionaire real estate developer Charles S. Cohen.
Others, like the Film Forum and Anthology Film Archives, operate as non-profit organizations and have relied heavily on members and donors for their support. “We’re only alive yet thanks to the largesse of our audience and board members,” said Cooper, of Film Forum.
After shutting down the theater in mid-March, Cooper sent staff members home with the concessions – “ice cream and cake, all the shebang,” she said – and stuck a hand printed sign at the front door stating they would be back in a few weeks. They thought they would be open on March 31. And then at the end of July. And then August. They taped theater seats to social distances and installed hospital-grade hand sanitizer and air filters. They held a fundraiser in the spring that raised $ 100,000 and raised an additional $ 585,000 from the government’s Payroll Protection Program, which for many months helped keep 24 full-time employees. Cooper said the place was still bleeding. The monthly expenses of the Forum are approximately a quarter of a million dollars. When it reopens, it likely won’t offer concessions, for security reasons, which Cooper says typically bring in half a million dollars a year.
“So this is all a financial debacle,” she said. “But I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know.
On the bright side, Cooper said the Film Forum has a backlog of films to show and that while it doesn’t want to downplay the coronavirus toll, the reopening is late. “We think the audience is out there and that Cuomo, as smart as he was, we think he’s gone too far,” she said, adding, “He seems to have forgotten that we exist. even.”
A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said theaters would be allowed to reopen when science, data and health experts deemed it safe. “This cautious approach has served New Yorkers well so far,” said spokesman Jack Sterne, “and everyone is working to stop a second wave.”