As the Eastern Seaboard buckles down for Hurricane Sandy—and companies try to keep customers and employees safe—the cultural economy of New York City and the surrounding area has ground to a halt.
The shutdown of movie theaters began yesterday afternoon, as Deadline reports that chains between Washington D.C. and Connecticut began to shutter their box offices beginning at 3:00 p.m., when AMC theaters sold their last tickets of the day. Although several other chains followed suit, Regal Theaters continued to show movies until today—although, with the New York City public transportation system shut down in the evening, it is unlikely that ticket sales could have been impressive. (Not that that wasn’t par for the course this weekend, as moviegoers stayed home even while the weather was fine.) There is no word yet on whether theaters will open for business on Tuesday, although AMC tells its customers that a Tuesday afternoon reopening is hoped for.
And average moviegoers and theater employees aren’t the only ones whose cinema schedules have been affected: the Los Angeles Times reports that the planned Tuesday evening premiere of the upcoming Anna Karenina, starring Kiera Knightley in the title role, has been postponed.
Live performances have also been affected. MTV reports that concerts along the coast have been canceled or postponed, including a John Legend show in Brooklyn, a Rita Ora show in Philadelphia and a Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) show in Harlem. Some acts have been hit multiple times: rockers The XX had to postpone in three different cities. And it’s not just music. Even though comedian Louis CK had initially told fans via email that, although refunds would be offered, his Sunday night New York City show would still go forward, that resolve was soon reconsidered. In a heartfelt and hilarious open letter on his blog, he explains: “I know that a lot of people are excited to come and they are fine with taking the chance but I really don’t want a pole to smash your face in because you saw some comedy.” Tickets for last night’s show will be honored on March 2.
On Broadway, similar caution has been exercised by producers. Starting with The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera, theaters announced that Sunday’s matinee would be the last show until at least Tuesday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Broadway League, the association of New York’s Broadway theaters, followed those decisions by announcing that all plays with Sunday and Monday evening performances would be canceled. However, if Tuesday evening performances do go ahead as planned, the storm’s effect on Broadway is likely to be small: most Broadway theaters in New York are dark on Sunday and Monday nights, the usual theatrical weekend. Off-Broadway shows, which have less regular schedules and are thus more likely to miss planned performances, have been canceled one-by-one, with one show, A Summer Day, already planning to miss Tuesday night.
And even though television remains a last bastion for culture-craving citizens shut in by the storm—yes, we know you’re watching the Weather Channel rather than scripted shows—the television business is not excluded from safety concerns. Work on television shows filmed on the East Coast (including Gossip Girl, 666 Park Avenue, The Good Wife, Smash, 30 Rock, and Nurse Jackie, among others) will not go forward on Monday, reports Deadline. Late-night television, however, will still see new shows on Monday night, if all goes according to plan today.
Thank goodness for books.