Thu | Dec 3, 2020

Now open - Palace Amusement’s New Kingston drive-in ready for first showing

Published:Friday | October 23, 2020 | 12:08 AMShereita Grizzle/Staff Reporter
A worker puts the finishing touches on the drive-in venue, which will have a regular movie concession stand, as well as pan chicken and a bar.
Palace Amusement Company’s New Kingston drive-in cinema will open today with the showing of ‘The War with Grandpa’, starring Robert De Niro.
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When The Gleaner interviewed Palace Amusement Marketing Manager Melanie Graham back in June, the return of drive-in cinemas in Jamaica was a mere thought, an idea the team was actively pursuing as an alternative to indoor cinemas that had been closed due to COVID-19.

But fast-forward approximately four months, and that thought has become a reality. Today, movie lovers will once again get to enjoy their cinematic pleasures from the comfort of their cars as Palace Amusements resurrects their New Kingston drive-in cinema.

In an interview with The Gleaner prior to today’s opening, Graham said the journey to making the drive-in cinema a reality was a long, costly one. She expressed that with revenues at the indoor cinemas being cut drastically, first by closure due to COVID-19, then a reduction in patronage since they reopened, this new venture was executed with limited funds.

“We have done quite a lot of work on the location, getting it ready for today. As you know, when last we offered drive-in cinemas, it was reels that we were using. Of course, we don’t use that anymore because everything is digital, and so we have had to upgrade equipment and that cost quite a bit,” she said.

“We have had to do this with virtually no money. It has been extremely difficult because as you know, we have been operating now for eight months without any revenue because we have closed two cinemas, the cost of running the two that are still open is not covered by the patronage that we get each day, and so there really was no money. But we see this is a way (hopefully) of finding our way out of this situation that nobody could have predicted was possible. Overall though, the response to the cinema has been very positive, and we hope that will transmit into people actually coming to the box office.”

Graham went on to say that with drive-in cinemas once more becoming the ‘rave’ in various countries across the globe, she is hoping to have the cinema become a permanent fixture in Jamaica.

“There has been a resurgence of these drive-in cinemas all over the world because of COVID, so who knows what will happen next? I mean, who would have thought even in January that we would be bringing back drive-ins? Anything is possible at this time,” she said.

“We have a two-year contract with where we are now, and it’s possible that we could negotiate more time if we need it, and things are going well. If we can’t get the contract extended and we see that the cinema can be a permanent fixture, then we have to rethink our options and look at another location. But right now, we’re taking things one step at a time and so we’re just hoping for a full house on Friday (tonight), that the night will go well and that all our patrons will be very satisfied.”

TIME ADJUSTMENT

The box office at the new Palace Amusement location on Dominica Drive is set to open at 6 p.m., with showtime at 6:30 p.m., half-hour earlier than the previously announced times. Palace Amusements said the adjustment in time is to accommodate persons who had concerns about making it home in time to meet the islandwide 9 p.m. curfew.

Tickets to catch the movies at this new location will cost $1,250 for adults and $800 for children. The featured film for tonight is The War with Grandpa. To make it the full theatre experience, Palace Amusements has announced that in addition to the regular concession stand, the New Kingston facility will have pan chicken and a bar. Moviegoers will need to have an FM radio in their cars as the audio will be transmitted through the frequency 89.7.

sherita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com