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Mary Pickford hanging by a thread due to lost revenue in pandemic closures

Theaters across the state have taken something of an intermission due the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, owners of small cinemas explain the outlook for movie theaters is grim. 

News Channel 3’s Dani Romero spoke with the president of D'place entertainment, the company that owns Mary Pickford theatre, about their plans to staying a float.

“It's been a disaster for us," said Damon Rubio, President of D'place entertainment.

The Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City is holding on by a thread. 

“We fall right in about 92% of our revenue loss from year over year," said Rubio.

Rubio explained their theater was open for about three months last year. In an effort to make up for lost business, they created a safe alternative "the drive in experience". 

"It's allowed us to keep our employees going, which is really been our primary goal," said Rubio. "It's allowed us to serve our community with films for folks that we're looking for something to do.” 

The owners knew it would be a gamble but one they had to take. 

“The drive in was an expensive opportunity to build and we spent a good amount of money putting it together," said Rubio. "There's a lot of capital investment in that.” 

But that investment is generating very little cashflow. The Mary Pickford reported a $100,390 operating loss for its drive-in theater, as of Jan. 31.

“It's not enough at all for a sustainable business," said Rubio.

The city also helped out by forgiving the theatre's rent for both December and January. 

The amount due that was forgiven ended totaling $2,714.19, city documents show. This accounts for the rent due in Dec 2020 ($1,758) and Jan 2021 ($955).

It's not just the cinemas, every aspect of the entertainment world has taken a hit including Hollywood. 

“It's been really hard for movie theaters that are operating because we're playing films that have very little marketing behind them, for the guests to kind of get excited about them," said Rubio.

So is the Mary Pickford Theatre at jeopardy of closing for good? 

“We're not looking at that," said Rubio. "If this pandemic would to rage on another six to 10 months, we'd be talking about a different story." "I think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel right now.” 

When Riverside County moves back into the red tier, theaters could reopen inside with modifications at 25 percent. 

For more information on showtimes, click here.

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Dani Romero

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