Large chain, independent movie theaters struggle to reopen due to COVID-19

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 9:46 PM CDT
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After being closed for months because of COVID-19, Regal and AMC Theaters have announced they will begin reopening locations around the country starting in July. But some smaller, independent theaters can’t wait that long.

An area family-owned theater said it needed to open as soon as the state allowed.

“We’ve certainly had a loss,” said Lori Armstrong, owner of Derby Plaza Theaters.

Armstrong reopened her business May 29, showing older movies at a discounted ticket rate and selling to-go concessions; just to stay afloat.

“We were able to do the curbside concessions which helped. It helped get us through a little bit but there’s still quite a loss,” said Armstrong.

“That’s why we ask for the community’s support. Without them, we won’t be here,” said Armstrong’s consultant Kristina Helm.

It’s not just the independent theaters feeling the heat, companywide, AMC claims a loss of more than $2 billion while having to shut down theaters during the pandemic.

We’re not a big chain but I certainly think that this will impact big chains as well. I don’t think that this is going to just impact small businesses. I think it will impact everybody on their own scale," Helm said.

The doors at Warren East have been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But big movie theater chain, Regal, which runs the three Warren Theaters around Wichita announced that it will start reopening theaters on July 10.

Armstrong isn’t requiring masks to be worn at her business, unlike AMC and Regal, which are making masks mandatory once they reopen.