Local movie theater still mostly empty after reopening

1 month 2 days 2 hours ago Wednesday, September 23 2020 Sep 23, 2020 Wednesday, September 23, 2020 3:45:00 PM CDT September 23, 2020 in News
By: Noah Culpepper, KOMU 8 Reporter
Goodrich Forum 8 in Columbia

COLUMBIA - As Columbia attempts to reopen businesses, movie theaters are slowly trying to make a comeback. 

Columbia's reopening plan allows for entertainment venues (nightclubs, movie theaters, bowling alleys, etc.) to reopen as long as they are closed by 10:30 p.m. and maintain city social distancing requirements. 

Some local theaters have reopened throughout the spring and summer, but the Goodrich Forum 8 movie theater in Columbia only recently opened its doors in August. It originally closed in late March. 

Randi Anderlik, a shift manager at Forum 8, said though the weekends are still bringing in customers, the difference in foot traffic between now and before the pandemic is noticeable. 

"You can tell there's a huge difference in people coming in," she said. "I don't know if that's because they don't know that we're open in particular, or if people are just afraid to come in."

She also said they are checking temperatures of employees when they enter the building and have asked patrons to put down the arm rest of their chair, so staff will know which seats to disinfect after movies let out. 

A couple patrons had an idea of why people weren't coming back yet. 

"I think it's mostly fear. Fear and caution." Anne Chambers said on her way to see 'Infidel.' 

"I think they're scared of getting COVID," Zoe Conderse said, who was seeing 'The Broken Hearts Gallery.' "Because people have to sit together and interact with people. Since you sit together in the movie theater, you have to be close to people."

In March, when states first began mandatory lockdowns, it was estimated the global film industry could loose roughly $5 billion due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Walt Disney Studios and Universal Pictures suspended the release of box office data after global profits plunged. The 2020 box office is on pace for a 70 percent decline from the previous year. 

According to a report from CNBC, major studios are choosing to release movies outside of the U.S., as a greater percentage of foreign theaters are fully-open than their American counterparts. According to the same report, 90 percent of open movie theaters are outside the U.S.

For all the industry's troubles, at least Conderse is happy to be back at a theater, staring up at the big screen. 

"I love the movies," she said. "And I love the movie theaters, so I'm really excited that they opened back up."

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