‘We’re lucky,’ Santikos CEO says after Regal theaters announce closures

Santikos has 7 out of its 9 local theaters open, making just enough money to stay afloat

SAN ANTONIO – It is news that has rocked the movie theater industry.

Regal Cinema, the second largest cinema chain in the nation announced Monday it is temporarily closing all of its U.S. theaters and some in the UK.

Of the 536 theaters in the U.S., six are located in San Antonio.

The company reported losing billions of dollars in the first half of 2020. Due to the pandemic, theaters were shut down and some big money movies are holding out on their releases.

Santikos Entertainment CEO Tim Handren told KSAT his theaters have suffered some blows, but nothing to that extent.

“The Palladium theater outperforms all five of the Regals combined, so I can see why they might be struggling,” he said.

Handren said out of the nine local Santikos theaters, seven are open to customers. The Bijou and Silverado locations are temporarily closed.

“We were one of the first theaters in the U.S. to reopen, and I think we helped set the standard for how a theater should safely open. The National Association of Theater Owners adopted our standards,” Handren said.

Those standards include strict mask and social distancing mandates.

“We’re still at 50% max capacity. We never even come close to that. So when you go to reserve your seats, there are seats that are blacked out so you won’t be near anybody. On a good day we might have 10 to 20%,” he said.

Handren and his team monitor theater performance everyday and said if they’re surviving, it’s better to be open.

“At least we’re providing jobs and we’re covering the cost of those jobs and the cost to be open and we’re covering a little but of our fixed operating costs,” he said.

Back in April during the lockdown, Santikos had to furlough almost 700 employees, but since opening back up, almost 400 have been rehired.

“After Tenet opened, these last few weeks we continue to do better every single week,” he said.

It’s a trend Handren hopes will continue so he can ring back the rest of those employees.

“At the end of the day, we’re still not breaking even but we are doing good things by being open, by giving jobs back to employees and giving people a place to escape their couches,” he said.

As for Regal Cinemas, the statement released Monday said the closures are temporary, but did not say anything about when the theaters might reopen.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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