PATERSON, NJ - Like many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, theaters have taken a hit by the vacancy of moviegoers. Fabian 8 Cinema in Paterson was among the many movie theaters that closed down due to Governor Murphy’s executive order. 

Tom Arnold, General Manager at Fabian 8 Cinema in Center City Mall, as well as the rest of his employees, were furloughed. 

“We were shut down until September,” Arnold told TAPinto Paterson. “I was brought back in a month or so to start opening the theater and making sure that all of our equipment was up and running before we could open.”

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Arnold had to cut expenses and was unable to bring back all of his staff which led him to have to ask for volunteers. “I would ask those who wanted to come back and told them I couldn’t do as many hours as they had before, but I left it up to those who were willing to come back,” Arnold said. 

The theater has been working on a weekend schedule since October. Starting June 11, the theater will return to operating seven days a week. 

While it was exciting for most moviegoers that the theater was open, at least in a limited capacity, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving that the theater began to increase in business when The Croods, the first major Hollywood release since the pandemic played on the big screens. Throughout the pandemic, the theater had been playing independent films and sporadic Hollywood releases. 

Before the pandemic, Fabian 8 was in the process of upgrading for the preparation of summer 2020. One of the upgrades was to expand the theater by adding an Esports game room. Three theaters have been completed and will open very soon.

“We were in the process of swapping out carpet in our auditoriums,” Arnold said. “This was put on hold due to COVID.” Now that the theater is up and running, Arnold hopes to finish the upgrades by July or the end of the summer.  

While business has been slow for a majority of the year, Fabian got a boost with the release of Godzilla in March.  “The Fast and The Furious is going to be a benchmark for us,” Arnold told TAPinto. “It’s going to be exclusively in theaters rather than also be streaming.” 

After Memorial Day weekend, CNBC reported that North American movie theaters took in nearly 100-million dollars, indicating that movie fans are ready to return to viewing films on the big screen. However, for Fabian, it is unsure how well the theater would have done. As for the location of the theater, most Paterson residents walk. This Memorial Day the rain kept viewers away. 

With rain as one of the reasons business may have remained slow, some still fear the potential risks of the virus. Anthony Cangro, Woodland Park, however, told TAPinto that he will go back to the theaters because he isn’t as concerned about COVID as he was in the beginning, especially since he is now vaccinated. 

“The only thing that has changed is that I’ll occasionally watch a movie that was released on HBO Max instead of seeing it in the theater,” Cangro said.  “Usually I’ll see it in the theater. I’m seeing The Conjuring 3 tomorrow.”

Andrew Meyers, Clifton, had the same thought as Cangro about going to the movies, stating that he wants to go as often as he can. “I used to go to the movies all of the time before everything shut down,” Meyers said. “Something about seeing movies on ‘the big screen’ just makes everything so much better.”

Arnold is hopeful that Fabian will bounce back especially due to the immense amount of films that are set to release this summer. However, they have been waiting six months for federal grants to kick in. 

“We’ll rebound and get back on track with the help of these major Hollywood films,” Arnold said. “I’m just not sure how fast.” 

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