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El Con movie theater temporarily closed; operations combined with Park Place theater

El Con movie theater temporarily closed; operations combined with Park Place theater

The closure of the El Con cinema is temporary, the movie theater chain said, as film release dates keep getting pushed back.

Cinemark Theatres has temporarily closed its El Con Mall location and combined operations with its sister cinema at Park Place, theater officials announced in a letter early this week to patrons.

The move to combine Century 20 El Con and XD at 3601 E. Broadway with Century Park Place 20 and XD at 5870 E. Broadway comes as the state and county’s COVID-19 pandemic hits new highs in confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

But Cinemark officials said the biggest hurdle in their Tucson operations is actually coming from pandemic-ravaged Hollywood. Tinseltown isn’t releasing enough new films to fill Cinemark’s two megaplexes.

Theater officials were not available for additional comment.

As cinemas struggle to turn a profit during the pandemic, drive-in theaters have gained popularity in 2020.

Hollywood held back releasing most of its new films in 2020 when theaters nationwide were shuttered for months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. When theaters started reopening late last spring and early summer, a couple new releases trickled out, but movie makers were leery of putting out their summer and fall blockbusters for fear the pandemic would keep audiences away.

Films set for 2020 releases were pushed back to 2021, and even that might have been optimistic, some industry insiders have said.

Warner Bros., for example, is hedging its bets by streaming new releases on its HBO Max subscription service on the same day they hit theaters, according to published reports. “Wonder Woman 1984” was one of the first, released on HBO the same day it went to theaters last December, prompting tens of thousands of new HBO subscriptions, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Upcoming titles heading for the duo-release include the epic monster showdown of “Godzilla vs. Kong” in May; the sci-fi thriller “Dune” in October; and the highly anticipated “The Matrix 4” set to be released around Christmas in December, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Cinemark’s Century Gateway 12 on North Kolb Avenue, meanwhile, remains closed while nearly half of the movies being played on the 12 screens at Cinemark’s Century Theatres at the Oro Valley Marketplace are so-called “Comeback Classics” — movies that in a few cases haven’t been shown in a theater in years. The lineup this week, for example, includes the 2014 historical drama “Selma” and the 2004 Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman.”

Harkins Theatres two Tucson locations — Arizona Pavilions 12 in Marana and Tucson Spectrum 18 at the south side Spectrum Mall off Interstate 19 — remain open, but seating has been reduced to comply with COVID-19 social distancing protocols. Ticket buyers are now assigned a seat at the time of purchase.

Harkins has a couple movie classics on the lineup, but most of its screens are showing movies from 2020 and newer releases.

Most of the 15 screens at the AMC Foothills theaters in the northwest side Foothills Mall, 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd., also are showing new releases including the psychological thriller “Fatale,” which you can see in the theater or rent and stream online.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch


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