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"I can't tell you when we'll reopen" Marcy Horst manager of the Vinton Palace Theater began her remarks to the Vinton Kiwanis Club.

Celebrating 20 years this year, the Vinton Palace has been a story of great success pulled off by a community full of volunteers. That all came to a halt, thanks to COVID. Horst reported that the Palace is ready to reopen with the concession stand remodel being completed and everything is ready for business, but there are just no movies to be had.

"Disney just announced that the few movies that they had ready to be released, they are now holding." Unfortunately, streaming movies at home have now become the norm for everyone at home, "and that worries me," Horst said.

She explained that if there aren't enough people at theaters for companies like Disney to recoup the money that they put into the films, it wouldn't make sense for them to release the movies.

She shared that the theater was supposed to have Trolls 2, but when COVID hit in March, the company streamed the movie, and as a result the movie made more money than Trolls 1 did in its opening week.

However, because the Vinton Palace is a small community-owned theater, we are in a better place than the larger venues Horst shared. She said her biggest concern is the bottom line. "Everything has been cut down to the bare bones, even the insurance," she shared.

The Palace has been making popcorn and lemon shakes available by donations, on most weekends and that has been just enough to cover the insurance and utility bills.

When Horst was asked about showing old movies, she explained that there are very few that can be shown on our new digital machines. They would be able to show them on DVD but she said the quality would be worse than what you would see at home. It's not surround sound and has a smaller picture. Right now movies are not being made and it appears that when they are being released, they go straight to streaming.

According to articles that she's read in the trade magazines, even classic movies don't seem to be making enough money for the theaters to break even. She shared that even now the crowds are not what they used to be. She explained that when she started in 2006, it used to be that you couldn't see all of the movies on TV as you can now. There used to be huge crowds for Christmas and free movies but even those have dwindled.

She shared that hopefully next year there will be a small outdoor area in the alleyway next to the Palace with a small stage and seating for some outdoor entertainment with a window from the concession stand to the alley area.

When asked about starting up the concession stand to sell from the window now, she would have to pay for internet service to run the cash register and that service has been shut off to save money.

The cost to run a movie in 2006 began with a $200 "guarantee" and 35% of sales. Now it costs $300-350 per movie and 50-65% of ticket sales. Taking that out of a $3 ticket leaves very little to operate the Palace. Concessions are what keep the doors open.

When the concession stand does reopen, there will be an expanded menu that will include hotdogs, pretzels and nachos with the new area sporting an oven in the concession area. A couple of additions to the concession stand area is an oven as well as a walk-up window in the alley.

In the last few years, the Palace has seen a lot of improvements. In 2010 a major update was made for digital equipment. New seats in the auditorium followed in 2012, new air conditioning and a roof have also been added. Along with the concession stand remodel this year, new carpet has also been laid.

So stay tuned, and let's all hope for the best!

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Comments (1)

Thanks for the update, Marcy. We miss our little theatre and will be ready for a grand re-opening!
By: Barb Beau on July 29th 1:23pm

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