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Ballston movie theater without AC amid ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ blockbuster weekend

A sign posted at the entrance of Regal Ballston explains the AC outage (staff photo)

Those seeking an escape from the midsummer heat experienced the opposite this weekend in the Regal Cinema in Ballston.

The theater at Ballston Quarter mall is suffering an extended outage of its air conditioning, just as droves of moviegoers flocked to the big screen starting Thursday for the highly anticipated release of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” — dubbed “Barbenheimer” for their shared release date.

“As of Thursday aka the release of Barbenheimer madness, the air conditioning was nonfunctional at the Ballston theater,” said a Yelp reviewer. “We checked out the theater, and it felt like 85 degrees in there.”

The theater is “unbearably hot,” according to a Google review posted Sunday.

While the outage has been ongoing for several weeks, according to tipsters, the informal double feature cast a spotlight on the uncomfortable situation.

Even the New York Times mentioned the Ballston theater’s plight in a discussion about the success of “Barbie,” for which Gerwig now holds the record for the highest-grossing opening in history for a female director.

Some movie-lovers stayed despite the heat, while others took advantage of refunds and vouchers Regal offered to those who chose not to stay.

Asked for comment, the general manager of the theater referred ARLnow to Regal’s corporate team. The company did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

The concessions stand at the Ballston Regal theater (staff photo)

Regal’s owner, CineWorld, is also feeling the heat financially. The company filed for bankruptcy in September 2022 due to increased financial pressure caused by the pandemic.

CineWorld anticipated ticket sales to remain lower than pre-pandemic levels over the next year, though “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are providing a much-needed boost to the theater industry as a whole.

The two films raked in $155 million and $80.5 million respectively in their opening weekend. Between internet buzz and massive media campaigns, their performance exceeded projections and marked the biggest weekend at the box office this year.

Cinemas may face doldrums further down the road, however. Actors and writers have gone on strike, halting the production of numerous movies and TV shows.

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