Brendan W. Clark ’21
Cinestudio, the 485-seat independent movie theater on Trinity’s campus, was slated to reopen to the public on June 19 following its closure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in March. This reopening, however, was unexpectedly delayed by College officials late last week.
The Tripod spoke with Chief of Staff to the President Jason Rojas who described the publicized reopening date as an “unfortunate miscommunication.” Rojas indicated that the “timing of their [Cinestudio’s] reopening plan…didn’t allow us to thoroughly review it to ensure it met the necessary safety requirements to open.” Rojas also added that the College wants to “make sure we could provide the appropriate support for spaces adjacent to the theater that are the College’s responsibility to maintain.” Those spaces include theater restrooms in the Clement Laboratory, he added.
Cinestudio Executive Director Peter McMorris told the Tripod that the theater had “put a lot of time and resources toward following the State’s guidelines in protecting our audience from the COVID-19 pandemic.” “I and the Cinestudio board are convinced that we are ready to do this,” McMorris added, discussing the reopening.
The Hartford Courant, which had previously announced the June 19 date, reported Friday that reopening had been delayed as the “task of making this theater safe at this difficult time has proven more complicated than originally expected.”
When asked if the College will be providing a different reopening date, Rojas added that the College will “work collaboratively with Cinestudio to identify a reopening date…we have engaged them in a conversation.” McMorris stressed that action is critical, noting that Cinestudio urgently needs “to plan now for a definite opening date. That is crucial for us and our financial well-being.”
Cinestudio has been making safety preparations that limit attendance below the state-required 50% occupancy, with a plan to reopen with 25% capacity in the theater. Cinestudio has also implemented social distancing measures in the theater seats and entryways, with preparations for reopening starting in late May. McMorris added that he hopes to “figure out with Trinity very soon what further restrictions might be needed beyond the state guidance for them to be comfortable with our opening.”
Despite the College’s concerns around restrooms, the theater’s social distancing precautions were not “the basis for a decision to delay opening,” Rojas commented, the College will “support Cinestudio in their goal to maximize safety” and simply wants “additional time to review their plan.” Rojas also added that he was not aware of “any concerns about liability being expressed” as a reason for the delay and indicated that the College is focused on a safe reopening.
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” was the first film expected to be shown on June 19 and will now be shown at a later date. McMorris added that Cinestudio looks forward to “safely welcoming back our students and patrons in the community.”
Cinestudio, which has operated at Trinity since 1970 and was founded by a group of students that include McMorris, has a long standing “reputation for its wide diversity of programming, legendary projection, and superb sound quality,” according to its website. The theater recently celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and hosts the widely attended Trinity Film Festival each May.