With movie theaters reopened, dedicated employees predict a major Hollywood return


Bearden : We had most heard about COVID ramping up around the world. It’s almost like you can see a car accident coming and you support for it; you know, we do not have a force field close to America. Then, sure enough, when it seemed like things were really going to shut down, Alamo sent out a letter, letting us know we were going to be closed. They offered us a rent exemption letter to show your landlord or whoever you necessary to let know.

James M. Wooden, general manager, El Capitan Theatre: I’ve worked here for 20 years, plus I’d dreamed of being the overall manager, running this fantastic movie palace on Showmanship Boulevard. I became the general manager at the end of February 2020. In my wildest dreams We never thought I’d need to shut the theater down three weeks into our new job.

Cassie Gratton, general manager, Laemmle Glendale and Laemmle NewHall : I had been watching the news on Sunday and I heard all cinemas are closing starting the next day. I called my employer and I was like, “Hey, they will just said theaters are done, ” and he stated, “Let me get back to you. ” That Monday, I needed to come to the theater plus break everything down. It had been nuts.

A theater exterior has a marquee that says "Be safe"

The particular marquee of Landmark’s Nuart Theatre photographed in Apr 2020 after the theater power down.

(Jay T. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)


Jim Nicola, common manager, Landmark’s Nuart Theatre : We had started having guests that were scheduled to show up for Q& As starting to cancel, and the “Rocky Horror” cast chose not to perform that weekend. So we knew it was getting serious. There is still some hope that people would get through it simply with a limited schedule. However the news came down that individuals were closing. That was a sad day, turning off every thing in the theater and strolling away.

Brenden Perella, theater host, El Capitan Theatre : I was here the last day. It was definitely shocking. You understand, you’re working, you’re hectic, and then out of nowhere it offers to stop. Not by your option or even by the job’s selection — just the world has been shutting down.

Shelly Bridges, general manager, the Landmark: I remember going grocery shopping that night and the shelves were empty and I’m thinking, “OK, well, I’m not going to have a paycheck, and am don’t know how unemployment works. ” It was all simply bizarre. Each week you’re considering, “Oh, maybe next week, probably next week. ” And it simply kept getting pushed additional and further back.

A man wearing a mask cleans the tables attached to movie seats in an empty theater.

Visitor attendant Amandla Bearden wipes down tables between showings at the Alamo Drafthouse within downtown Los Angeles.

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Perella: I work in a skate park for the associated with Glendale on the side and that’s outdoors, so for the initial few months I kept hectic working there. Then they chose that it was time to close even outdoor things.

Gratton: My wife works at a vegan restaurant called the Wild Chive in Long Beach. That they had just bought their brick-and-mortar and were set to open last June in the middle of the pandemic. So I helped them open the restaurant and started working part time with these. It was a way for me to stay busy and they needed help, so it worked out.

Nicola: I have two other supervisors, and I think they were a little more effective [during the shutdown] than I was. One self-published a children’s book with incredible watercolors; another learned an effects editing program. I pretty much spent most of my days taking the dogs out for two-and-a-half-hour walks through Cheviot Hills.

Bridges: I actually started a YouTube channel about unemployment so that I’d have a way to get that information to my staff without it officially coming from the corporation. Unfortunately, I found that a lot of people needed that kind of articles, so that did well for me personally. In some ways, there were positives that came out of that year: people doing projects that they acquired put off for a long time, completing factors they had put on the back burner, spending some time with family. Two workers wrote novels in the time they were off.

Bearden: I thought, let me just go ahead and make use of this time, get on unemployment for a minute and focus on performing, writing, reading. I started reading the “Game associated with Thrones” books. I was simply trying to put stuff directly into my creative cookie container.

A man sits in an empty theater

James Wood, common manager of the El Capitan Theatre, poses for a portrait before an afternoon showing of “Black Widow. ”

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)