Cameo Art House Theater selling concessions, streaming movies online to stay afloat amid pandemic

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- In the ongoing fight against COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to remain closed to stop the spread of the virus, including movie theaters.

Cameo Art House Theater sits along Hay Street and has been a staple of the downtown Fayetteville area for more than 20 years.

Married couple and owners Nasim and Chris Kuenzel say they've only closed their establishment around twice in that time until the pandemic struck.

"This last four and a half months has been extremely unusual," Nasim said.

On Friday evening, they opened their doors to customers for the first time since March, selling concessions as a way to bring in some sort of revenue. While the projectors and theater seats remain empty, they hope selling candy, popcorn and drinks can provide a little relief.


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In addition, they hope this soft-opening, where they intend to sell snacks on Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. will bring back some community engagement.

Chris tells ABC11 they intend to stick with that schedule "as long as there is some demand."

In their 20 years of running the theater, the couple says they've experienced plenty of financial hardships and know how to adapt.

At this time, they say they understand the need to remain closed for public health. That's why they're choosing to take some action and move their business online, offering independent films on their website for streaming.

The Kuenzels say they were able to make some deals with several distributors to make this happen and get a portion of those sales.

"With our opening date being a moving target, we thought, might as well start something that we could continue," Nasim said.

While they acknowledge the concessions and online streaming won't be a permanent fix, they believe this, along with grants they're currently applying for, will help them stay afloat and employ their four current staff members.

Once the state finally approves the re-opening of theaters, Nasim and Chris say they'll be ready to fully open and follow those guidelines.

"We're hoping that, when the time is right, they're going to come back and really, enthusiastically, come back and see us, again," Chris added.

If you would like to stream an independent film online and support the Cameo Art House Theater, then you can go to their website for instructions.
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