Operators of one of Watertown’s only remaining longtime, downtown anchor businesses, the Towne Cinema, are upbeat after their July 3 re-opening.
The theater is showing some movies a lot of long-time movie buffs — and people with a bit of an offbeat sense of humor will like — gems such as Steve Martin’s “The Jerk.”
“We did open July 3,” theater manager Matt Sampon said. “We were predictably slow due to Fourth of July weekend and very beautiful weather. It was considered to be a ‘soft opening’ for us though, to kind of get the movie-showing process down again.”
Sampon said the movies he and his colleagues are playing at the moment are mostly older, “because that’s all that is really available to theaters at the moment.”
Sampon predicted the big movie that will start everything again will be “Tenet,” which is scheduled for release Aug. 12 — but he hedged his bets.
“That can change at a moment’s notice, and if it does, we will find some more older movies to pick from,” the movie vet said.
The Towne has been engaged in a GoFundMe project to combat the COVID-19 shutdown and, as of Sunday, its collection was at about $7,300, with extra donations coming in the mail, as well as on the theater’s fund website.
The theater’s GoFundMe campaign is intended to allow it to stay afloat during the coronavirus shutdown and to take care of necessary repairs to the historic structure that sits in the heart of downtown Watertown.
“We have one that is helping us get through being closed for what is essentially our four biggest months that we rely on every year,” Sampon said. “We were asked by the city to fix brickwork that will cost us between $10,000 and $15,000, and we need to fix the roof, which is another $20,000, at minimum. We are hoping to raise at least $25,000 of this through our GoFundMe campaign and anything on top of that will help with the expenses that we have been working on from inside the building.”
Changes that patrons see upon returning to the cinema are that the main theater, known as the Remax and CMN theater, has been repainted.
Sampon said the facility looks great.
The women’s bathroom was repainted and the concession stand is being upgraded to include some room for possible growth in menu options.
“Attendance has been a little higher than the day before it,” Sampon said, “which might mean that people are just slowly realizing that we are open, or are getting more comfortable with the thought of being in the movie theater during these times.”
Sampon said concessions have been, “pretty much what they normally are. Not too many people come in and just get a ticket. They need some popcorn and a beverage to wash the popcorn and candy down.”
Everyone that comes in notices the new concession stand, according to Sampon.
“It’s beautiful. Then they tell us about how they have missed the movie theater experience, and that they are so happy that we are open. You can’t see it with the mask on, but you can tell they are grinning ear to ear, as are we,” Sampon said.
A new cleaning regimen has been going well at the theater.
“We are still able to handle the movies ending and have enough time to clean everything, including wiping down all the seats and doing extra cleaning in the lobby and bathrooms between shows,” Sampon said.
“We truly look forward to having more of our customers see the difference in the theater when they feel comfortable enough to do it.”