VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – “Raya and the Last Dragon” made its weekend debut at dozens of movie theaters including Cinema Café. The Disney animation is the latest blockbuster to hit the big screen, and it’s expected to be a box office hit.
Cinema Café Marketing Director Caitlin Walker said ticket sales have spiked over the weekend and last week with the opening of “Tom & Jerry.”
“Family product is our bread and butter, and as we get more new family movies, we do get a little bit busier, which we are thankful for,” Walker said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the movie industry as Hollywood studios push back release dates for big titles.
Over the last few months, a little more than a handful of new movies have trickled into the local movie chain. Walker said showing new releases and classics to fill the gaps have helped to keep doors open.
“People, I think, started to lose a little bit of faith when you see those bigger titles get pushed back and pushed back,” she said. “But, now that we’ve seen some success from movies like “Wonder Woman (1984)” and “Raya” and “Tom & Jerry,” that have a broader appeal, the movie studios have gotten more confidence and are moving those movies back up the schedule, which is great for us.”
There is more encouraging news. After nearly a year, dozens of movie theaters in New York City finally reopened last week. The Big Apple is a big market in the industry and could boost the chances for more blockbusters to be released, helping local theaters bring in more business.
“Better sales means better news for everybody,” said Walker.
Walker believes as more vaccines roll out, more people might feel better about venturing out to the movies.
Moviegoers Kahler Latter, 15, and her mom Rebecca Braun came to Cinema Café Sunday to see “Raya.” They said they needed a break from being cooped up.
“I’m super excited now that that movie theaters are back open and everything because we used to love going to the movie theaters when I was younger,” Latter said. “Just the smell of the popcorn, it was almost nostalgic.”
Latter's mother agreed.
“I think we’re sick of Netflix,” Braun laughed. “As great as it is, I think we’re sick of Netflix and sitting home on the couch.”
Cinema Café’s biggest challenge right now, according to Walker, is operating under the state restrictions of limited capacity. She said they’ve had to turn some moviegoers away on weekends, encouraging them to come back for showings during the week.
Meantime, all eyes are on Hollywood as moviegoers wait to see what happens next.