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Local movie theaters slowly opening; ask for public’s help to continue to stay open

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many small businesses in the state, but movie theaters have essentially been closed since the shutdowns began and are now asking for the public’s help as reopening begins.

Owner of Skyview Lanes, Kris Simkins, says she believes we all need to save local movie theaters and not just hers, but around the country.

“The movie companies are watching what’s going to be happening in the next month, six weeks,” Simkins said. “To decide if they are going to keep sending the new releases to theaters or if they are going to keep putting them on streaming.

“What will happen is then people won’t be seeing movies in theaters anymore, they’ll just watch them all at home.”

One recent example is Disney’s live-action Mulan which was sent straight to streaming while owners were hoping to release it in theaters. Simkins expressed disappointment over it, but understood Disney is cash-strapped due to many of its theme parks closing as well.

Owner of Victory Theater in Kemmerer, Fred Baldwin, says having to shut down theaters has really hurt those businesses.

“This is a wound to someone who was already wounded,” Baldwin said. “The theater business wasn’t doing well to start with and this has been tough.”

Simkins pointed out that there is a national movement going on called Save My Cinema in attempt to help these businesses out. She says this helps consumers send an email to their senator or congressman to help with funding.

“Of course there is only so much money to go around,” Simkins said. “But they need to understand these small businesses need to keep functioning.”

She says she believes there needs to be a push from the public to see movies in the theaters in the next four to six weeks.

“Otherwise… we always look forward to those movies in November and December, Christmas time, Thanksgiving,” Simkins said. “We get snow, our families get here, people want something to do. There won’t be any movies out there if we don’t support and show them (movie companies) we really want to see movies in theaters.”

Baldwin says local cinemas are also important in a small town community because it’s not just seeing the latest movie, but many come for a social interaction.

“It’s a chance to go see other people,” Baldwin said. “I think people have missed it a lot. I know I have missed it, so I’m sure other people feel the same as I do.”

Simkins says there are ways to support the theater. You can buy a ticket even if you cannot come. When you come to the theater you can buy concessions. The reason those are priced the way they are is the theater has to send so much money back to the movie companies when showing a new film that it helps to bring in some revenue.

Both owners say people can expect to see social distancing measures in place. Skyview Lanes has a new kiosk to be able to purchase tickets and both locations are currently showing new movies.