Movie Theaters Hard Hit By Pandemic Shutdowns

May 11, 2020

Movie Theaters have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns of non-essential businesses. KLCC’s Rachael McDonald checked in with an independent movie theater in downtown Eugene.

The Broadway Metro in downtown Eugene had to close its doors after Gov. Brown issued her Stay Home order in March.
Credit Rachael McDonald

The Broadway Metro is among the hundreds of movie theaters in Oregon that closed their doors on March 24th.

“When Governor Brown issued the stay-at-home order,” Edward Shiessl, Managing Director of the Broadway Metro, said,  “We immediately closed our theaters to the public and laid off our entire staff do they could file for unemployment.”

But, Shiessl added there are still fixed costs like rent, utilities and insurance that have to be paid. To generate revenue, the Metro recently started home delivery of concessions including popcorn and beer. They’re also offering movies to stream on their website.

“When our customers buy a virtual ticket, using the link on our website, the proceeds are split between the theater and the film’s distributer.”

Shiessl said some of the streamable films are ones that would normally be on their big screens this month. Customers have been supportive and he appreciates it.

“It’s helping us pay a bill here and there and keeping a few dollars flowing to our community partners that we get our beer and wine from, so you know, I’d call it a win in that sense. But it’s definitely not a solution to any of our bigger problems.”

Shiessl said they’re trying to keep busy with maintenance projects at the Metro so it’s in top shape when they can reopen the theater’s doors. But it’s unclear what that will look like and whether going to the movies will be the same in a post-COVID world.

Copyright 2020 KLCC.