Two local independent movie theaters, the Malverne Cinema & Art Center and the Bellmore Movies and Showplace, will reopen Friday after months of darkness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re getting it ready. We’re repainting, cleaning the rugs,” said Anne Stampfel, who owns the two theaters with her husband, Henry. “It’s been a long run.”
The cinemas opened briefly late last year but closed again in January after business proved slow, Stampfel said. But with vaccinations rolling out in earnest, capacity restrictions on theaters no longer in effect and a promising slate of movies for the summer season, the Stampfels decided to open their doors once more. Keeping them open, however, will depend on foot traffic and money from the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which as of press time had not yet been awarded to the two venues.
“We don’t know,” Stampfel said. “I guess my future depends on it.”
Both theaters will be screening “Dream Horse,” an upbeat drama based on the true story of a Welsh bartender (Toni Collette) who convinces a group of villagers to purchase a racehorse, while the Malverne will also show the family comedy “Tom and Jerry,” along with several other titles.
The venues will offer cut-rate prices in hopes of pulling in moviegoers. Tickets are $6 before 6 p.m. on weekdays. Regular prices have been trimmed slightly to $11 at Malverne and $10 at Bellmore.
Stampfel said over the past few months she has received emails from patrons asking when she would reopen. Recently, she added, while her husband was setting up titles on the Malverne marquee, passersby stopped to express their support.
“That was encouraging,” she said. “We’re nervous to make the first step. Everything we’re doing, it’s been on our own gumption.”