The Astro Theatre continues to persevere throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks largely to public demand to see movies in a theatre in Iqaluit remaining high, says co-owner Charlotte DeWolff.
“We’re always being asked on Facebook, ‘when are you going to open?’”
The two-screen theatre has been unable to open at full capacity for much of the past two years, with public health restrictions often only allowing half-capacity or less during outbreaks.
Throughout the lockdowns the theatre’s concession stand remained open, however those sales are only enough to cover the wages of full-time employees and not other costs, said DeWolff.
This is the case once again with the arrival of this current wave of Covid-19 which started in late Dec. 2021.
“It’s been a rough couple two and a half years because we were forced to shut down because of the renos, then Covid hit. We’ve been just doing what we have to do.”
The Astro Theatre, much like many other small businesses, applied for the Government of Nunavut’s small business support program and DeWolff says that has helped, along with other support programs offered by the territorial and federal governments during the pandemic.
While having the movie theatre open would be ideal, the owners understand the necessity of public health measures.
“You have to respect it because it’s more important for community members to be safe. Everybody is struggling and you have to make some sacrifices,” she said.
Demand to see Spiderman: No Way Home, the highest grossing movie of 2021, also remains high and Iqalummiut will still have a chance to see it when public health measures ease, alongside Sing 2, which also was a big hit among Iqaluit residents, according to DeWolff.
“Not only do we play a lot of mainstream Hollywood movies, we played a lot of Indigenous, made-in-Nunavut productions, we’ve played films for the Nunavut Black History Society. It’s more than just a theatre, it’s a community theatre,” she said.
“It’ll be nice to have those screens showing films again.”