New Kingston Drive-in closure a matter of time
Longer days, 8 p.m. curfew impact viewing
Palace Amusement Ltd’s decision to close Carib 5 and Sunshine Palace cinemas was in direct response to the new COVID-19 protocols announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. However, the padlocking of the New Kingston Drive-In had nothing to do with a closure order.
Marketing manager of Palace Amusement, Melanie Graham, told The Gleaner whereas she had seen the orders about all indoor cinemas and hastened to comply, there was no suggestion that the drive-in would be affected. However, a visit from the police this week was cause for concern.
“The police from New Kingston visited us and said that it was 7:30 p.m. and we should not be open now because we fall under places of amusement and need to close by 6 p.m. They told us to get something in writing or else they would close us down,” Graham said.
Not wanting to suffer the indignity of having the cops shut her down, she sought clarification and was informed that the drive-in could remain open beyond 6 p.m. However, with the days getting longer, that meant that the start time of the movies at the drive-in had to be pushed back to allow for nightfall to facilitate the showing of the flicks. “Now, we have to start at 6:30 p.m. and with most of the pictures being one and a half hours long, that takes us to 8 o’clock. So, although we have permission to open, with an 8 p.m. curfew, we can’t operate,” Graham explained.
Pointing out that the situation was like being “between a rock and a hard place”, the marketing manager said that she will simply “wait and hope and pray” even as these unforeseen circumstances are continuing to wreak havoc on the company.
Palace has been in this kind of limbo before, which led to the company exploring the drive-in option, and making a huge investment to make it a reality.
“But we have been unsuccessful in getting the word out that the drive-in is open. When I see people in the pharmacy, they ask when are we getting a drive-in, and I keep telling them that it has been open since October,” she said.
Graham noted that these queries come at her, despite Palace putting the word out through advertisements on both traditional and social media. She theorised that the pull of Netflix and the lack of blockbusters at the cinema have combined to shift the attention of movie-goers away from the cinema. And, on what would have been a great note for them, had it not been for the closure, which is in place at least until March 22, the much-anticipated Godzilla had an opening date.
A press release Wednesday evening stated, “Palace Amusement Limited wishes to advise the public that our Carib 5, New Kingston Drive-In and Sunshine Palace Cinemas will be closed until further notice. This is in keeping with recent mandates under the Disaster Risk Management Act.”
Palace Amusement said that “the company remains committed to the health, safety and well-being of staff, patrons, and the nation at large”.