Shuttered Movie Theaters Reopening As COVID-19 Vaccine Sites

A chain in the Carolinas has hit on a clever, timely idea to make use of its real estate.

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After making the difficult decision to temporarily close all Stone Theatres locations due to COVID-19, the North and South Carolina cinema chain has reportedly converted its theaters to vaccine sites according to Variety. For an industry that was forced to get creative due to the pandemic restristrictions (including AMC allowing small groups to rent out theaters), this is a nice symbolic shift that hopefully can help us move along to the next chapter of the coronavirus.

"This allowed us to go from administering a few hundred vaccines a day to about 1,300 a day," Carolyn Fisher, New Hanover Regional Medical Center's director of marketing told Variety.

Theater operator Dale Coleman called this arrangement "the perfect situation" because the chain has been empty for months and they have "plenty of parking and a huge lobby." Local residents make staggered appointments, check in at the box office (which now hands out medical forms instead of selling tickets), and get their vaccine shot. Coleman said transforming his theater into a vaccine site was "fairly easy to accomplish."

The move has generated good will among the industry and philanthropic organizations--John Fithian, the president of NATO, told Variety that the organization applauds his spirit of public service and noted that "the sooner the vaccines are made widely available, the sooner communities across the country, and the movie theaters that serve them can return to normal life."

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.'s recent announcement and shift to putting its entire theatrical line-up for 2021 up on a streaming service is still causing tension across these very same industries. Negotiations to make things right with parties who were not consulted about the move (including million-dollar bonuses for stars) are ongoing, and the overall role for theatrical releases for new films is still being negotiated.

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