The Nickelodeon Cinemas in Portland has closed temporarily, about six weeks after it reopened in late summer, because of low attendance resulting from the lack of new Hollywood films.
With some new films now scheduled to be released later in the year, the six-screen downtown movie house could reopen again as early as November, general manager David Scott said Thursday.
Like most movie theaters, the Nickelodeon was forced to shut down because of the pandemic in mid-March. It reopened on Aug. 21, along with several other Maine theaters, with a limited capacity and a host of new safety features and procedures. Audiences were small because of the lack of new films released by Hollywood, Scott said, so he decided to close again on Sept. 30.
During that time, Scott saw Hollywood delay the releases of several anticipated films like “Black Widow” and “Wonder Woman 1984.” With theaters still closed in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, film companies are unwilling to release major films to potentially small audiences.
“With such poor attendance and no new films coming soon, the situation wasn’t sustainable,” said Scott. “But it’s temporary.”
Scott said once he does open again, his business will be helped by the recent loosening of Maine restrictions on indoor seated gatherings that take effect Oct. 13, allowing a venue like his to fill up to half its capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller. The prior limit had been 50 people. Scott said the new restrictions would allow him to have between 50 and 100 people in each of the six auditoriums, which have different capacity limits.
Many theaters around the country that closed during the pandemic have not reopened, and others that did reopen have closed again.
The country’s second largest movie chain, Cineworld Group, said Monday that it would temporarily close 536 Regal cinemas in the U.S. and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse venues in the U.K. this week, affecting some 45,000 employees. The company operates two theaters in Maine, Regal Brunswick and Regal Augusta.