Local movie theater reopens amid pandemic

Kirksville’s Downtown Cinema 8 movie theater has reopened with limited hours and is now offering retro showings of movies.

Downtown Cinema 8 reduced its hours of operation to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was previously open throughout the week, but the low amount of customers and lack of new films releasing prompted the reduction of hours. Due to the lack of new movies, the theater is offering retro showings. Downtown Cinema 8 is currently showing “The Goonies,” “Hocus Pocus” and “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” as their retro movies.

The theater has put COVID-19 precautions in place to allow for reopening. Movie-goers are told to separate from other groups by at least two seats if in the same row, while leaving an empty row between groups. With these recommendations, only about 33% of the theater is usable. Social distancing and masks are being recommended by Downtown Cinema 8 but are not required. 

After each show, the employees have additional cleaning. Employees write down where people are sitting in the theater and clean around those areas after the film. An overnight cleaning crew cleans the entire theater at night after closing. 

Jim Fitzpatrick, manager of Downtown Cinema 8, said COVID-19 has had negative impacts on the film industry overall. With the lack of new films coming out, trying to do retro showings is an attempt to bring in profits. 

Fitzpatrick said they got lucky with being able to show “Hocus Pocus” near Halloween. The movie did well during the first weekend but slowed down the following weekends. New release movies, such as “Tenet,” have been underperforming as well. Fitzpatrick said the film did poorly nationwide, and there is not much Downtown Cinema 8 can do to combat that.

“We can’t do much about it ourselves,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are at the liberty of what film companies will do.” 

New movies are not being released regularly, with many blockbusters, such as “Wonder Woman 1984,” being pushed back. Many theaters across the country remain closed, with some even going out of business.