MANLIUS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Let’s cut to the chase. Nat Tobin does not believe movie theatres are dead.
“I think there’s a social aspect in seeing films in a movie theatre, that you can not get at home. And people want to get out,” Tobin said.
Tobin just celebrated his 29th anniversary as owner of the Manlius Art Cinema, but it was a quiet celebration. After 100 years, Onondaga County’s oldest movie house has been shuttered for most of the past year, and Tobin doesn’t flinch when he’s asked what he’s missed most.
“Customers. The people. Our friends,” Tobin said. “It’s been tough. When you build your whole life around an endeavor and then, you know, you’re forced by circumstances to go on hiatus, it’s a very tough thing.”
Tobin and his wife, Eileen Lowell, will reopen the Manlius on April 16 with Best Picture Oscar nominee, “Nomadland.” They tried to reopen in October, with plexiglass shields and new air filters, but film fans weren’t ready to mingle. A recent survey of regular customers shows that now, they’re ready.
The Manlius will open with the concession stand closed and masks on. But Tobin is hopeful the popcorn and candy will return by Memorial Day, along with a fresh supply of film titles, which have been in short supply during the pandemic.
Tobin said, “I think the problem has been more or less solved this past weekend by ‘Kong Versus Godzilla,’ which had a huge opening and my thought is that it might spur more product into this product stream.”
Tobin says he’ll apply for a federal grant aimed at helping the arts rebound from the shutdown. While he waits for word on that, his biggest concern is plotting the comeback of his signature curtain speech before each film.
“That’s been a kind of dilemma. Do I do the speech with a mask on? Can people hear me if I do it with a mask on? Do I, you know, go down to the front of the theatre and yell?” Tobin pondered.
Answers to those pressing questions and more, coming soon to a theatre near you.