KAYSVILLE, Utah — Kaysville Theatre is known for their popcorn, family friendly environment and less expensive movie tickets, general manager Lisa Call said. Unfortunately, ticket sales are down about 65 percent.
“People aren’t coming in, they are staying home that means they are not paying to watch a movie, they are not paying for concessions, they are not coming to buy popcorn and drinks and that keeps us alive,” she said.
It’s been really hard, Call said.
“We have gone from packed auditoriums, everybody making broad announcements please slide in, please move over, we are going to sell it out, that’s how we stay in business, to 20 or 30 people coming to a show,” she said.
While the pandemic continues, Call said she understands people wanting to stay home. The issue is there are fewer movies coming out, and many are doing stream only or streaming on the same day as theatre release.
“It is frustrating in the fact that there is not a lot we can do. When my distributor brings my candy order and its only 50 percent of what I ordered, you have to sell what you can get,” she said.
How streaming will impact movie theatres has been a question for a long time, Sarah E. S. Sinwell, Ph.D., Associate Professor for the Department of Film and Media Arts at the University of Utah, said. Sinwell also is on the Board of the Salt Lake Film Society.
“Even pre-pandemic there was a lot of anxiety about the window which it is released in theatres and when it is released on home video, on streaming, on DVD, on cable services, on Netflix,” she said.
Movie theatres are not going anywhere, Sinwell predicted, but she said she doesn’t anticipate same day releases of major movies to continue following the pandemic.
“I think people really care about the movie experience, the theatrical experience, the ability to see a movie with popcorn in the theatre with their families and friends and with an audience, everyone is laughing at the same moment, everyone is screaming at the same moment,” she said.
Movie theatres have had to pivot, such as Kaysville Theatre offering up old movies to attract customers and the Salt Lake Film Society starting their own streaming service. The Salt Lake Film Society is also offering up drive-in movies during part of the year.
“We have been dealing with this question since the advent of television, DVD, laser disk, we have always had this anxiety at movie theatres and movie theatres have had to respond to changing technologies and changing audience behaviors,” Sinwell said.
Kaysville Theatre has been able to stay in business because of the support from the community, Call said. They sell dozens of buckets of popcorn each night from people who take it home. It’s wonderful to have such a supportive community, Call said.
“We treat our customers like we are family,” she said.