Bay of Plenty cinema owners hampered by the pandemic are looking forward to a boost in patronage as new films are released.
Rotorua's Basement Cinema owner Simon Reilly said there was a buzz around the amount of new content hitting the silver screen.
He had owned the cinema for the past 13 years, taking it over 10 years after it was first established.
Clientele tended to be older and so when the pandemic hit, there was hesitancy in going out.
"A bit more wary, staying away from town and staying at home."
The release of movies had been slow the past few years, which impacted the offering, even though he said independent cinemas had the flexibility of showing a wider range of content.
He said there were more feel-good movies and service tended to be able to adapt to what the customer needed in terms of show times.
This included offering viewings at a time that suited clients, as well as group bookings and cinema hire.
"Probably the hard thing is most independent cinemas are open seven days a week. Just having a small staff and having to be open seven days."
But the cinema was co-located with a rock climbing wall and cafe, which helped keep business steady, he said.
Depending on the movie, showings had been sold out in recent weeks, and things were looking to get busier as the cold weather crept in and new movies came out.
This included New Zealand-made content such as Whina, which would be released at Matariki.
When an independent cinema closed down, he said it impacted the community spirit.
"The towns are dying, I guess. It's the way of the world."
One year before the pandemic began, Tivoli Cinema opened in Pāpāmoa.
Karen Hawes and her partner Shane Jarrett set up the Cambridge cinema of the same name about seven years ago.
But when the pandemic hit, things had gotten tough for the pair.
Hawes said things were looking up as client hesitancy around Covid-19 decreased and movie production increased.
"There's some great movies coming out, and people are saying, 'oh, when's that one starting?', they're really looking forward to it."
There were seven independent cinemas listed as being in the Bay of Plenty on the Cinemas of New Zealand website.
Geoff Lealand set up the site about a decade ago and spends a lot of time travelling around the country's various venues.
He was aware of four small cinemas that had drawn the curtains for the final time throughout the pandemic, including Te Puke's Capitol Cinema at the beginning of May.
The closure of the Capitol was attributed to a loss of patronage during the pandemic as well as other cinemas popping up in the region.
Lealand was aware owners had struggled with long periods of closure as well as having problems with supply and getting a good programme.
"But this allowed a lot more smaller things to come through."
There had been a demographic shift in audiences in recent times and older audiences were "rediscovering cinema".
"In fact, some independents might be doing better."