JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the coronavirus prompted businesses to shut down, one of the industries hit hard were movie theaters. With Hollywood hitting the pause button on releasing new films and self-quarantining becoming the order of the day, movie theaters had no choice but the shutdown.
But Sun-Ray Cinema in Five Points came up with a better idea.
It started renting out its two screens to groups of people, allowing individuals to feel more confident in who they were sitting near in a theater.
The move has become a big hit, and it’s allowed the locally owned cinema to keep operating.
“As long as movie studios aren’t releasing those big features that would get people in the doors, that’s our indicator that this is the business model we need to keep going with,” said Sun-Ray Cinema co-owner Shana David-Massett.
David-Massett says the decision to allow groups to rent a theater for a viewing has been a godsend bringing over 200 bookings in the course of just one month.
“We thought that the next release was going to be around July 24 and that’s just gotten pushed back,” David-Massett said. “When that date got pushed back, we just said we’ll continue with this.”
Now, with Hollywood studios continuing the new feature moratorium, Sun-Ray is going to continue its “On Demand” offering. And thanks to a small-business grant from the city of Jacksonville, they were able to purchase an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer that will allow Sun-Ray to keep the theater even cleaner and safer for groups coming in.
“We looked really closely at what the CDC was recommending and they said this electrostatic treatment was going to be the very best for using a commercial disinfectant,” David-Massett said.
You can basically choose whatever movie you want to watch. Some have just played video games. For many, it’s a great way to get out of the house while still being as safe as possible in public.