LAS CRUCES – Allen Theatres announced this week that they will be going into “hibernation” until further notice, closing all 13 of its locations across New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado and laying off about 450 employees.
Owner Russell Allen said the Telshor 12 drive-in theatre in Las Cruces closed to the public Oct. 25, and that concession sales at the Cineport 10, the chain’s other Las Cruces location, were discontinued last week. He said these latest decisions were made with cost cutting in mind, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on the company.
In New Mexico, theaters have been ordered closed since March, as the state took measures to reduce the spread of the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
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Allen Theatres pivoted to opening drive-in theaters in Las Cruces, Farmington and Gallup in June, but Allen noted public interest has declined, forcing the chain to stop.
“This weekend was a third of the business of last week …. It’s done, the the interest has gone away,” Allen said. “I think we had 50 cars all weekend long.”
This announcement comes after it was announced only a few weeks ago that the Video 4 location, also in Las Cruces, will remain closed permanently.
Allen said movie theatres are often a “mental savior of communities” in hard times because they provide an escape from reality. But the reality of this pandemic is that many businesses are hurting.
“There’s hundreds of businesses that will not reopen because of this, and you could say it’s because of the virus or you could say it’s because the heavy handedness of the governor. There’s different points of view,” Allen said. “There has been several businesses and sectors that have done extremely well, and there are others that are completely decimated like mine.”
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Before the virus hit the state in March, Allen said he had about 450 employees in his entire theatre circuit. Currently he has about 20, and those remaining will be laid off now as the theatres shift into a dormant state for the coming months.
Allen said he does not anticipate reopening the theatres again until March 2021, unless the situation changes before then.
Leah Romero is a fellow with the New Mexico Local News Fund and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rromero_leah on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Allen Theatres closing all locations, layoffs to affect 450 employees
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