It’s been a tough two years for Gloucester Cinema, as the COVID-19 pandemic meant “slim pickings” for film releases and made the public wary of packing into movie theaters.
There’s a more celebratory air in the Massachusetts town now, though, thanks to a milestone Academy Awards victory for “CODA,” the Best Picture winner that was largely shot in the town. Gloucester Cinema will get to play a role in the fanfare, after being tapped as one of roughly 600 U.S. theaters participating in a limited-time rerelease of the film that chronicles the hearing daughter of a local deaf family as she explores her interest in singing.
“CODA” streams on Apple Inc.’s
Apple TV+ service, but the technology giant announced a new limited theatrical run earlier this week, following the Oscars win. The latest run, which kicks off Friday, is a homecoming of sorts for “CODA.” Not only was the film shot locally, but Gloucester Cinema ended up hosting a small premiere last summer, after the film’s originally scheduled debut in Los Angeles was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It had other summer showings as well.
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“The community outpouring has been fantastic,” John Williams, the theater’s owner, told MarketWatch in a telephone interview. “We’re getting all kinds of telephone calls.”
Many of the background actors in “CODA” are locals who are also Gloucester Cinema customers, and Williams said it was exciting the last time around “to see people you actually see, up on a screen.”
People are more comfortable visiting theaters now than they were when Gloucester Cinema did its first “CODA” run, and Williams sees early signs that ticket interest is even stronger than it was back then. It’s welcome news for a business that was hit hard during the pandemic.
“It will help us quite a bit,” Williams said. Gloucester Cinema “lost a significant amount of money” over the past two years, and while the business was “fortunate to get some government funding,” Williams said it was only in March that he started to see sales resemble prepandemic performance.
Gloucester Cinema originally planned to screen “CODA” for just a week, but it decided to extend showings for another week due to strong demand. The theater may have sought a longer run if the “CODA” win had happened weeks ago, when there were fewer theatrical releases, but now it’s fully locked into other commitments beyond the next two weeks.
This isn’t the first time that Gloucester Cinema has been able to screen a film with local ties. The theater saw “fantastic” success running the 2000 film “The Perfect Storm” back when Williams first bought the theater; the showing of the film that focused on a the true story of a commercial fishing boat that docked in Gloucester helped him pay for flooring upgrades.
After screening “Manchester by the Sea,” Williams was able to get rocker love seat chairs for his theater. That 2016 film was based in the nearby titular town, and featured scenes shot around the area; it was the first film released by a digital streaming service to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards, and the Amazon.com Inc.
production won awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for star Casey Affleck.
This time around, Williams has upgrades in mind that are a bit less glamorous but no less important. He’s interested in getting new computer equipment such as servers and projectors to replace existing items that are a decade old. He expects that the “CODA” proceeds will help cover part of the cost, even though the theater is only conducting a short run.
“This will help us get to the future better,” Williams said.
MarketWatch staff writerTherese Poletti contributed to this article.