NYC Mayor candidate Andrew Yang hit the AMC Empire in Times Square early Friday, buying evening tickets for Eddie Huang’s Boogie and talking to a small group of press as cinemas around the city opened for the first time since last March.
“It’s a film set in New York and the filmmaker is Asian American and right now it seems like a time for us to be supporting Asian Americans. I also have a sense of just how difficult the film business is,” he said. “So supporting New York and an independent film that has very New York roots makes me very happy.”
“I think the reopening of movie theaters is a very powerful sign that we can do things that we used to do pre-Covid,” said Yang, who also ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
Yang volunteered that he’s a AMC Stubs member — the chain’s frequent moviegoer pass. “Few things gave me more pleasure and joy than getting free popcorn after seeing enough movies and racking up enough points.”
Someone who’s not rushing to the big screen — New York City’s current Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The jury is out on this to me,” he told WNYC public radio host Brian Lehrer today, citing the rise in Covid variants. Asked if he would go to a movie or be comfortable if his kids did, he declined to respond directly. “I have a wait-and-see approach on the question of how much things are being expanded,” he said. “We are going to be watching the variants very closely.”
Reopening decisions are up to the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light to movie theaters on Feb. 22 at 25% capacity, or a maximum of 50 people per show.
Attendance was sparse midday but, judging from online seat availability, should pick up some this evening and into the weekend. Steve Sanchez, a teacher from Queens, just coming out of an afternoon show of Tom & Jerry, at the AMC Empire was happy to be back and felt safe.
“With all the social distancing, there are enough seats to space everyone out and there’s not much to worry about from that standpoint,” he said. There were four or five others in his show. He’s looking forward to returning for Warner Bros Mortal Kombat in mid-April “and the bigger items coming out.”
Joshua Juneau of Manhattan, emerging from the AMC Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side, really liked Raya and the Last Dragon. “You wear a mask, everyone is spaced out.” There were 15 people in the theater. He’s eagerly awaiting In The Heights, the big-screen adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical in June. He plans to come often. He saw his first movie since Covid two months ago, but in Florida. “And Florida and this are very different.”