Movie theaters have begun showing new films and are now opening to capacity at some locations after a tough year dealing with COVID restrictions and slim pickings from Hollywood.
The box office numbers are starting to reflect that people actually want to go out to see a movie.
In the week ending June 4, the top grossing movie was The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It with over $24 million. In second place was A Quiet Place: Part II with $19 million and Cruella with over $11 million.
During the previous week, A Quiet Place II made over $47 million and Cruella-$21 million.
The biggest movie this spring was Godzilla vs Kong, which has made a total of over $98 million so far.
Only two weeks ago, the top film was Spiral, which only made $4.5 million.
So as bigger films are being released, the numbers are showing that the summer movie season is in full bloom.
The historic Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg is just one of the businesses shut down for months in early 2020. They were able to re-open with limited capacities in June of 2020.
Unfortunately, most movie studios had pulled their major releases, choosing instead to make them available by streaming services or pay-per-view.
The Rowland survived by running older films after the studios began offering them at an affordable cost, according to Rowland Board Member Rebecca Inlow.
“It was fun to offer classic movies.”
The over 100-year-old theater started with Back to the Future, using a clever catch phrase to encourage people to go Back to the Rowland.
Movies were only shown once on Friday and Saturday nights.
They had their regular patrons, but the theater never had to worry about going over the recommended-capacity since it is so large with plenty of room to be socially distanced, she said.
They lost revenue even when only using volunteers as employees, but she explained they never applied for any government funding. It was the community that kept the theater alive.
People would just stop in off the street to make a donation or moviegoers told them to “keep the change.”
Now they are back to showing new films with the first being A Quiet Place II, which “did okay,” Inlow said. They are still only showing movies on Friday and Saturday nights for now.
Eventually they will return to being open seven days a week when they will have to hire a few employees. “We are not there yet financially.”
During the tough year, the theater was not dark. It was used for dance recitals, class reunions, showcasing a film version of the Philipsburg High School and West Branch High School plays, and because of its size, Philipsburg Borough Council meetings.
This actually opened a new revenue stream for the building as a rental for special occasions. “It is interesting how it worked out,” Inlow said.
There are some big movies titles coming out soon, but many are still being offered through streaming services, such as HBO Max and Disney+, giving local theaters competition.
Unfortunately, prices at the Rowland were impacted by the financial losses, and there has been a slight rise in ticket prices. But Inlow quickly pointed out that the Rowland has not increased their movie prices for 20 years.
Starting in July, if you want to see a film, it will cost you $1 more, making the price $7, which is still very reasonable. She expects the concession prices will stay the same with a small soda and popcorn only costing $4.
In the last several years, the Rowland had become a cultural hub known for hosting a variety of community events, concerts, and even film festivals. At this point, Inlow said she is still hesitant to schedule other things including live shows for this year.
It is possible they will have a Christmas show and in 2022 the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra is expected to be back. Also, a Neil Diamond impersonator concert cancelled in 2020 may be re-scheduled in 2022, she said.
In Clearfield, the Ritz Theater is also showing new films, but only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. Prices here are very affordable at $6.
The Golden Ticket Cinemas in DuBois has returned to a seven-day movie schedule, but they are not yet offering as many show times as before the pandemic.
On Tuesdays they feature $5 showings of the latest films.
For complete show times and film titles, all of these theaters have Facebook pages with more information.
Going out to a movie is a tradition we would like to keep alive. The last year has been really difficult for these businesses so, please support your local theaters.