Movie Theaters Pop Back Into Business


Taylor Fanning

Empty hallways at the theater

Taylor Fanning, Business Manager

 In the heat of the pandemic, some businesses that have been affected the most are movie theaters; the new restrictions have caused them to reopen and close multiple times. One local Michigan company, MJR Digital Cinemas, has been trying to keep business through the restrictive orders.

   Since the shutdown, many changes have been in place at this location to increase the safety of the patrons. Capacity is limited to 50%, and the seat selection is modified allowing space in between the different groups. One way signs are placed in the hallways and lobby in an attempt to restrict the flow of traffic.

   The shutdown has negatively impacted the theatre financially along with the atmosphere.  Because the Executive Order allowed reopening in late December, the theater was opened for what is normally the biggest movie day of the year: Christmas. However, the holiday business was drastically lower than the previous years. “We normally push over 4,000 customers throughout the day, but this year we barely reached 400.” shares Paul Finnigan, MJR General Manager. 

   LCN Senior and loyal MJR customer, Reese Cook compares her experiences and atmosphere at MJR Chesterfield from before to after the pandemic. “Before, I remember the lines were filling the lobby, and it was hard to select good seats because the theaters were full. Now there were no lines, and it was easy to pick seats even with the limited capacity.” Cook states the concessions were different as well. “The concessionists have to put on the butter and there aren’t any seasonings.”

   LCN alumni, and Chesterfield MJR Digital Cinema 16 manager Haley Turpin, shares one of the hardest parts of regenerating business is finding newer movies to play because the release dates keep being pushed back, some even to the fall. In order to gain a profit when the doors were closed, MJR began selling concessions through online ordering websites like Door Dash. Turpin explains the newer concession options. “We offer two sizes and separate butter online; One size slightly bigger than a large, and one the size of seven  large popcorns.” MJR also began allowing private theaters to be sold for groups up to 20 people for the movies that are available.

   Because of the lack of business, the staff has been limited since the return. Turpin states “We formerly had over 100 shifts per week, but recently it’s been less than 20 shifts for the whole week.” The staff is hopeful that once new movies are released, it will create more business. Now that the concessions are allowed in the theaters again the business has been gradually increasing.