Theaters struggle in purple tier
Back in the purple tier, the few choices theaters once had are gone. Some have developed online assets to bring revenue through the website, but others are stuck waiting.
Metropolitan Theatres, owner of many of Santa Barbara’s cinemas, seeks to sell gift cards as it waits to reopen. In an email sent to newsletter subscribers with the subject line “Help Support Our Theatres this Holiday,” it offered a deal: get a $10 concession voucher for every $30 spent on gift cards.
Only two theaters are open of its 16 locations across California, Colorado, Idaho and Utah.
When Santa Barbara County progressed into the red tier in October, the Fiesta Five and Camino Real cinemas opened under strict precautions. Most of the seats had to remain empty to keep with social distancing protocols.
It wasn’t profitable, Metropolitan’s president David Corwin told the News-Press in a previous interview. But the theaters wanted to open for their employees as well as the community.
If COVID-19 safety precautions weren’t restrictive enough for the cinemas, Hollywood tightened the squeeze. Premiers were pushed back until 2021, and Disney’s “Mulan” skipped the theaters and was released on the streaming service, Disney+.
Meanwhile, the West Wind Drive-In in Goleta reopened after closing in April 2019 and now holds frequent screenings.
Local performance venues have canceled performances or moved them online during the pandemic.
The Lobero Theatre, at 33 E Canon Perdido St. in Santa Barbara, holds online performances in its Live from the Lobero Pay-Per-View Concerts.
Musicians have a contactless recording session at the Lobero, and fans can watch it back on demand.
The Lobero, a Santa Barbara institution for almost 150 years, says its future is uncertain. It has lost over $1 million in earned income since closing its doors in March, according to its website.
The Granada Theatre, located at 1214 State St. in Santa Barbara, canceled performances of “Cats” scheduled to show in December.
Mid-October, the Granada held a fundraiser with the Santa Barbara Symphony. The performance was titled “Cabaret with Kabaretti” and was available to stream live for $65 per household.
The performance included interviews with the musicians and the best views in the house. The website advertises a digital subscription for the online performances, indicating a new normal for the theater.