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Revised COVID-19 curfew halts Drive-In

The most recent curfew hours announced by Government to combat the spread of COVID-19 is forcing motion picture exhibitor, Palace Amusement Company, to close its New Kingston, Jamaica Drive-In cinema for the next week.

Revised Curfew

According to Palace Amusement Company’s Marketing Manager Melanie Graham, Tuesday’s announcement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that the curfew times will be now be 8:00 pm to 5:00 am has put the drive-in cinema operations in jeopardy and, therefore, the decision was taken to close down for a week. “The thing is that the picture we were scheduled to open this week is over two hours long. There is no way we can start the movie earlier as outdoor has to be sufficiently dark for patrons to see the screen, so we are boxed in and have had to take the hard decision to close,” Graham told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “So even if we started the film at six o’clock, once it is dark enough there is now way we would be done on time to get patrons and staff out in time,” she continued.

Drive-in dilemma

Palace Amusement was scheduled to open Judas and the Black Messiah, which Graham noted was projected to do very well as it has been earning rave reviews. She, however, noted that the cinema will reopen next week (Ash Wednesday) with the animated feature film Tom and Jerry, which has a run time of just under one-and-a-half hours. “We are extremely disappointed that we will not be able to show Judas and the Black Messiah at the drive-in cinema, but we just can’t given these new restrictions. Thankfully, we can show this film at Carib [at Cross Roads] and Portmore. We will now have to look to find films that are all under 90 minutes to play at the cinemas given the curfew and that is difficult given that most films being produced these days are over two hours. But we have to adhere to the restrictions to get everyone home on time,” said Graham. Judas and the Black Messiah is a biographical drama film, directed/produced by Shaka King. The film details the betrayal of Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, chairman of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, at the hands of William O’Neal, played by Lakeith Stanfield, an FBI informant. Meanwhile, Graham also shared that start times at Carib 5 and Portmore Palace, the company’s two other cinemas which are still in operation, will be adjusted to keep within the curfew times. The films at these locations will commence at 5:00 pm. Graham said everything is being cut to bare bones to facilitate this curfew. This includes the cutting back on the showing of trailers ahead of the start of the movies. “It’s a lot of juggling that we have had to do to cope with one problem after the other. Again it is disappointing that we have to cut the showing of trailers as so many persons look forward to these trailers to see what is coming to the screens in the future… but it’s just something we have to do,” said Graham.

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