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In a virtual panel on Thursday, Vue International chief Tim Richards said that his multiplex chain is going to try and stay open as long as possible, while Rolando Rodriguez, chairman, president and CEO of U.S. chain Marcus Theaters, said Governor Cuomo is beginning to understand the global impact of keeping cinemas in New York closed.

Richards and Rodriguez were speaking at a CJ Summit and discussed the path forward for the cinema industry.

“We all need to continue to believe and wave that flag,” said Richards. “Obviously economics and survival is critical and that has to be the beginning, but I think we need to also emphasize on the importance we are to a community, to high streets, main streets. We drive footfall, pedestrians to our main streets, to shopping centers. We are anchor tenants, we’re social hubs where families can go together.”

Richards also said, citing a UCL study, that going to cinemas are good for mental well-being, particularly during difficult times like now. “We’re going to try and stay open for long as we possibly can.”

Rodriguez said that the U.S. National Association of Theaters has been in discussions with Governor Cuomo for months now and has impressed upon him all the safety measures taken by them, including the CinemaSafe initiative. “I think he’s starting to understand that his decision is impacting the movie industry worldwide,” said Rodriguez. “It’s not just in the U.S., it’s a worldwide issue. And so we’re encouraging him that all the safe steps he’s taken to protect the consumers out there, we’re taking equal to more steps in protecting them and we are hoping that he’ll allow the theaters to reopen.”

Richards said that the exhibition industry had been investing heavily in upgrades and refurbishments during the lockdown in the hope of a regular supply of product. He described last week’s “No Time To Die” postponement as a “body blow” that “no one saw coming,” and that the sector is now regrouping and “trying to work out how to get through this period.”

“The difficult part is, ‘when is it all going to end?’ January, February, March, November, December, no one knows,” said Richards. “We’re tired of all these false starts. We need to find a time, and we need to work collectively, and this is with the studios, to get a release schedule that we can rely on, we can bank on.”

(Pictured: Tim Richards and Rolando Rodriguez)