Sewickley’s Tull theater offering online screenings

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 | 6:33 PM


The Tull Family Theater is thinking outside the box (office) and continues to provide cultural experiences despite social distancing.

By going to the nonprofit’s website, www.thetullfamilytheater.org, cinefiles have access to new theatrical releases online.

“The virtual programming is an effort to stay engaged with our audience and continue adding value to their cultural life. Plus, via our “Weekly Update,” we created a platform for our audience to exchange film recommendations for the current zeitgeist,” said Carolina Thor, executive director, in an email. “It offers an opportunity to stay connected and learn what people watch to find comfort and relieve anxiety.”

Since opening in February 2017, the theater has maintained 365-day-a-year operations — until March 13, when they closed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of covid-19.

“We accepted the temporary closure of the theater as a challenge to instantly reinvent our model. Within seven days of closing our building to the public, we practically launched a new business — an online/virtual one,” said Thor. “We had not done anything like it in the past.”

Thor said the reaction to online viewing has been “phenomenal.” Some of the content requires an admission fee — current offering “Saint Frances” is available as a three-day rental for $12 — which provides revenue while the theater doors remain closed. Other options are free.

Thor anticipates adding new content daily.

Access to one of the theater’s most popular documentaries, “Fantastic Fungi,” will be available online starting Thursday, with three chances to participate in a live question-and-answer event with cast.

When the Tull Family Theater does eventually reopen, they may continue to offer online viewing, but Thor said she is eager to return to regular operations.

“It is disheartening to us that hundreds of children who we serve via outreach are unable to participate in these temporary solutions because they lack access to technology. Their after-school programs, with which we partner, are closed and unable to guide them in accessing our online programming,” she said. “So while we are really pleased to offer this temporary solution, we can’t wait for the opportunity to be together again, with our regular patrons, new ones and all the youth we serve. We can’t wait to open our doors, pop the corn, turn off the lights and share the collective experience of cinema.”

For technical assistance, email hello@thetullfamilytheater.org. Film price points are set by distributors, and proceeds are split with the theater.