Theaters and the Pandemic

Kavitha ReddyIndustry, Palace


WHY we need help.

We have a lot of different ages as fans of the Palace so before we get to the “how” we want you to understand the “why.”  If you already understand this, please scroll down to the HOW section.  In a nutshell: Grab a calculator and add up what you made in May, June, July and August of 2019.  Now, take away 90% of that. (I’m not a math teacher, there’s possibly an easier way lol but here are the basic steps someone gave me: Divide your total by 100.  Then multiply that number by 90.  Subtract that from your original total.)  So if you made $10,000 in those 4 months, you are now holding $500.  Now, cut that number in half.  $250. Fast forward to the same period in 2020.   You’ve cancelled all of the unnecessary bills you can, you’re only buying the groceries you need, but many of your fills remain the same.  Pay your bills with that $250.

With the introduction of Covid-19 into our mainstream and the subsequent fallout from everything associated with it, the theater industry is in trouble.  Not just a slow period or a couple bad months.  This is a catastrophic blow to the viability of the entire theater industry.  Does that sound a bit dramatic? It’s not.

Our location closed on March 23, 2020.  By the time we closed, attendance had already started to be affected by the virus and our last few days open were almost entirely empty. The theater remained closed until early June. That means that for April and May we had $0 income.  0. At this point, I know many of you were experiencing a similar panic, but were able to benefit from the government’s supplemental unemployment payouts.  These payouts gave a lot of you more money than if you were actually working.  Add to that the $1200 stimulus check.  Meanwhile, many businesses, ours included, are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  In order to qualify for the forgivable Payroll Protection Program, we had to keep our payroll.  This meant that our employees were being paid by us and not unemployment.  The PPP was only forgivable IF we followed very specific guidelines.  Imagine if your stimulus check could only be used to pay for gas. It also only gave us 2.5 months worth of expenses…6 months ago…

Compared to those 4 months in 2019, 2020 has resulted in a 94% drop in revenue.  As we explained in the example above, we are essentially working with $250 when we would normally have $10,000.  The bigger problem for us is that this is indefinite.  Here are some of the key issues affecting our ability to rebound

(1) People are still scared.  Despite the safety protocols in place, and the many personal ways to protect yourself, many are still not venturing out into real life.

(2) Movies are “unscheduled.”  For many reasons, the studios have removed most movies from the release calendar.  Reasons include a lack of screens to place them on and difficulty finishing the movies due to Covid shutdowns.

(3) Many states are lumping theaters in with riskier venues.  The activities that have led to super spreading typically do not occur at a movie theater.  Guests are sitting quietly, breathing through their noses.  This is much different than the screaming and movement involved with venues like sporting arenas (which are largely allowed to open).

(4) Relief packages in the government are not coming quickly enough.


HOW you can help.  Here are some ways:

(1)IF you feel comfortable, attend a movie! Studios are looking at the performance of films currently in theaters when making decisions about when to release new movies.  If the numbers suggest that guests are ready to return to the theater, bigger/better movies will come out.  We do not want to encourage you to come out for the sake of coming out, but we are taking major steps in stopping the spread and would be happy to give you a tour of the ways we are doing this before you buy your ticket so you can feel comfortable.

(2) Buy curbside popcorn.  These curbside concession purchases are probably better for the theater in the short term.  They require less payroll hours from us and that money doesn’t have to be shared with studios.  You can drive up, order, and get your popcorn delivered to your car.  ( And do it regularly.

(3) Visit and send a note to our elected officials urging them to help.  It takes just a few seconds to enter your info into the form and send the letter.

(4) Tell a friend.  Our trade industry suggests that as many as 47% of people do not realize theaters are open. People just aren’t thinking about movies right now so they aren’t looking.  Studios aren’t spending money on TV ads so the general consumer has no reason to know.  Take a minute and tell a friend that we are open!

(5) Rent a theater for a private showing.  The theater rental will cost you around $150.  We cannot give you the times that we have to set aside for studio movies. You can pick anything that’s currently playing in the theater. You can also watch anything that’s available on dvd, but we need a copy of the dvd a few days before the movie so we can get it into the system. You can request more info on our website. Hey, you’re here already, so just click back to our homepage.

(6) Interact with relevant social media.  You can comment/like/share our stuff, visit the accounts of movies you want to see and do the same there.  The more activity that exists, the harder it is to ignore.

(7)Purchase a coupon book.  We printed coupon books that have lots of savings and will give us money to use now.  You can purchase them in our curbside line or in theater.


The scary thing is not knowing how long this will last.  If we have to wait until 2021 for new movies, that will mean our business will have essentially been closed for a year.  Imagine if your job cut your pay by 95% for an entire year… What if you could make it through the hard time if all of your friends came by with a $5 bill once a week…

We know theaters will always exist… it’s an experience that cannot be replicated.  We just hope we are one of them on the other side of this.