Ottawa – After more than 70 years of showing movies to Ottawa audiences, the last time the screen drops at Bytown Cinema.
Bytown owner Bruce White announced the closure of the movie on December 31, citing fewer customers and fewer movies available during the COVID-19 epidemic.
“Every day the film has been losing money since the epidemic hit. Although we were allowed to be public, the audience was dramatically smaller,” White said.
“Bytown has an excellent customer base, but not many Bytowners are coming these days. I do not blame them: our staff has done an excellent job with COVID protocols, which keep customers as safe as possible, but everyone’s risk assessment is unique and unique to their circumstances.”
Bytown on Ridow Street opened its doors to the Nelson Cinema on February 10, 1947. According to the Bytown website, local industrialist Hyman Berlin produced the film through the fall and winter of 1946. The first film was called “Johnny French”.
Bytown closed in the spring during the first wave of the pandemic, but reopened in July when Ottawa became the 3rd phase of the COVID-19 reopening plan. When Ottawa moved to the revised Stage 2 in October, all movie theaters in Ottawa had to close for 28 days.
Theaters have been allowed to open in Ottawa since November 7, when they moved to the Ottawa Orange-Restriction Zone as part of Ottawa’s color-coded COVID-19 restrictions.
Bytown said that while there were fewer customers during the epidemic, fewer movies were available.
“Another aspect of my decision to finish programming by December 31st is that we’re going to be making movies,” White wrote.
“Since the epidemic hit, distributors have also had to make some business decisions. They have sold some of the titles to streaming services, bypassing the marketing cost of releasing them to some limited-seating cinemas.
White said he began working on a legacy plan in August 2019, hoping to find someone to continue the Bytown tradition and bring in new ideas.
“I made some progress in it, then the pandemic hit,” White wrote.
“It’s possible that someone wants to take over the Bytown business and provide an independent film base for Bytown’s amazing fan base. But it’s a scene that is unlikely until the pandemic storm comes out of sight.”
Bytown currently has 15 employees. White asks people to donate to his new project “Staff Appreciation Fund”.
“E-transfer any amount to [email protected] and I will make sure that, ideally for Christmas, the fund is distributed equally to the staff,” White said.