Movies offer escape from COVID on Christmas Day



SCHENECTADY — There are many reasons why some people go to the movies on Christmas Day, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Historically, Christmas has long been a major day for the movie business, with major blockbusters premiering all over the U.S.

Schenectady residents Domi Hoyt and her three-year-old nephew, Juel R, went to see “Wonder Woman 1984” premiere Friday at the Bow Tie Cinemas Movieland 6 on State street. While she said she didn’t like the movie as much as the 2017 “Wonder Woman,” she said some scenes were superior. However, the quality of the movie had little to do with why she was out.

“Let’s just say it’s a good way to get away from the family,” she said. “It’s been a tough year, with quarantine. The ups and downs. The world ain’t [expletive]. The government ain’t [expletive]. Nothing more to add.”

Hoyt was one of a handful of people who came out to see the new movies at Bow Tie Cinemas Friday, which included the premieres of “News of the World” starring Tom Hanks and “Promising Young Woman” starring Carey Mulligan.

Bow Tie Cinemas reopened Dec. 18 using COVID-19 safety measures, including mask requirements for staff and customers, Plexiglas partitions in the box office and concession areas, and leaving 50 percent of the seats in each auditorium unsold to allow for social distancing.

Christmas Day has a different meaning for Kevin Hammonds, of Troy, whose father brought him to the movies Friday to celebrate his 14th birthday.

Unlike some people born on Christmas, Kevin said he’s never felt slighted by his birthday sharing double billing with the holiday.

“Nah, it’s good. I get double presents,” he said.

Kevin’s father, Steven Hammonds of Albany, and his younger brother, Mehki Hammonds, treated him to the night out at the movies. They went to see “Wonder Woman 1984.”

“I’m not the type to watch that kind of movie, but I really liked it,” Mehki said.

“For me, it was more about bonding time of a father with his children on his son’s birthday, during a special holiday, during the hard times of COVID to support a local business in the community,” Steven said.

Kevin said 2020 has been a difficult year for him at Troy High School. He said being forced to use virtual education has left him very used to looking at screens all day.

Steven said the pandemic has been difficult for his event-planning business, called “Neveyent.” He said his business mostly creates events at a nightclub called “Opium” in Atlanta, Georgia, even though he lives most of the year in Albany. He said COVID-19 has made everything in his professional life harder than it was before, but he said he’s no stranger to hardship.

“I lost my daughter, my sons’ sister, Nevets, when she was three-years old [in 2012] from an epileptic seizure,” he said. “My company Neveyent is named after her, and Nevets is my name spelled backwards.”

For Cory Cottingim, a college administrator at New York University, and Pablo Sepulveda, an architect, going out to the movies on Christmas was more about checking out the downtown in their new home than about seeing any particular film.

“We didn’t do Christmas with family because of COVID, and we just moved,” Cottingim said. “We were just kind of walking around downtown to see what there is, and seeing what we might want to do between now and New Years.”

Cottingim and Sepulveda had been paying $3,000 a month for rent to live in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York, until the coronavirus pandemic convinced them to move upstate.

“It wasn’t really an option before the pandemic, which has been terrible, but it allowed us to work remotely from home, so it just doesn’t make sense, financially, really to live in New York, pay New York prices, but not really be able to enjoy New York, because you can’t right now,” Sepulveda said. “We’re still employed in New York, but I’m supposed to be working from home until like June, and we’re paying less than half what we paid in rent for our mortgage.”

“And the Stockade is super enjoyable,” Cottingim said.

Neither were certain which movie they would like to see. Cottingim said he was intrigued by the Christopher Nolan movie “TENET.” Sepulveda was looking more for a specific genre.

“I would like to see a horror movie, but I’m not sure there is any available,” he said.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

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