In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, SIFF said Friday that it will suspend all events and programming at its three cinemas: SIFF Uptown, SIFF Egyptian and SIFF Film Center, beginning March 13, with an end date unspecified.
“Despite having recently implemented increased sanitization, caps on seating, and other precautionary measures, SIFF believes the best course of action at this time is a temporary closure,” the organization said in an email. “It is especially difficult for us as we have had to furlough our cinema employees, a result we were trying to avoid.”
The email noted that plans for the annual Seattle International Film Festival, scheduled for May 14-June 7, were continuing, “and we continue to monitor the situation closely in consultation with government and health officials as well as other arts and culture and cinema colleagues.”
Patrons with pre-purchased tickets to the Uptown, Egyptian or SFC are asked to consider donating them back to SIFF; if not, they should contact email@example.com for other options.
In contrast, AMC Theaters today announced that their cinemas would remain open. According to Variety, the chain announced new measures taking place Saturday and effective through April 30, the most significant of which is a cap on ticket sales at 50 percent of an auditorium’s capacity (or at 250 if the auditorium holds 500 or more), so that patrons can practice social distancing. Hourly cleanings and other sanitation measures were also announced.
AMC’s theaters in the Seattle area include the Pacific Place 11 downtown, the AMC 10 in the University District, Oak Tree 6 in North Seattle, Factoria 8, Alderwood mall 16 and Woodinville 12.
Deadline.com reported today that Regal Cinemas, whose theaters in the Seattle area include the Meridian and Thornton Place, is also staying open and instituting a 50 percent capacity rule.
The Cinemark chain sent an email to many customers Thursday announcing new sanitation procedures, but did not describe any new ticketing measures.
Several independent moviehouses in the Seattle area, in addition to SIFF, have already closed; among them the Majestic Bay in Ballard, the Grand Illusion Cinema in the University District and the Grand Cinema in Tacoma. Others remain open, continuing to monitor the situation; best to check with theaters before heading out to a movie.