NILES, Mich. - Because of the pandemic, the entertainment industry shut down. There has been a nationwide shift from the typical movie night inside a theatre back to driving up and watching a movie that way.
Months without ticket sales have been a challenge for this Michiana mainstay but that’s why the owners are bringing back concessions to go not only to gain some money back but to remind folks that Wonderland is still here.
Wonderland Cinema holds a special place in many hearts around Michiana
“Wonderland Cinema is a place I can take my family to for a fun night or day out to see affordable movies where sometimes you spend a much on concessions at other theatres at you do total at wonderland," Steve Young, one Niles resident said.
The summer season is normally a busy time for movie theatres nationwide.
“There were some good movies coming out this summer. You know, April starts the summer movie season, you know, and it goes all the way to July and then august kind of tapers off a little bit," Scott Moore, the Vice President of Moore Theatres who owns Wonderland said.
But the business has been closed for months, losing lots of money along the way.
“A lot. Yeah. Yeah, we've lost a lot of business," he said.
That’s why Wonderland is holding a concessions-to-go event for the first time since the pandemic began.
"It's more community feel good letting the people know that we're still gonna be around, you know, it's not so much about the money. It's, you know, that obviously helps every little penny does," he said.
Leaders are brainstorming ways to continue to make money.
From renting out the space.
“As an individual, for your family or for events for 25 people or something like that," he said.
To transitioning it into a game room.
“Where we'll have Xbox and PlayStation 4s and we'll have some gaming options available for people as well," he said.
Hoping to reopen soon, there will have to be added safety precautions like 50 % capacity and social distancing between rows.
But because of all the precautions, the theatre won’t be like how it was before.
“We typically had five to six shows we're only going to have four or five now depend upon the movie length obviously have to clean the seats in between each showing as well," he said.
So will small theatres like this survive the pandemic?
“Wonderland is packed all the time and we got people all around SW Michigan to come up to wonderland," Young said. "It’d be nice to get back but it's also got to be safely."
“I think theaters will survive. Yes, I do," Moore said. “But it's just one of those things where I think people be willing to go if it's a new movie if it's an older movie where you can run it on Netflix or whatever platform that you use. Oh, you know, I think we'll stay home as a family instead of trying to risk something possibly."
So it all depends on Hollywood and whether there are new movies coming out. Moore is optimistic and says the theatre is hopefully going to reopen August 1st.
Moore tells me he would’ve reopened sooner but it’s just not up to him.
“We tried scheduling reopen July 3, July 10. It's really dictated by what Hollywood does, especially with the new releases and stuff. We're finding theaters across the nation and across the state that are showing older movies. Other than if you're drive-in, you're doing fantastic if you're not drive-in, and you show older movies, whether it be John Hughes marathon was 16 candles and all those kind of things or a karate kid marathon or something like that going back to the originals, theatres are struggling for people to come," he said.
As for Friday, concessions to go that ends at 7 and there will also be a movie in the park which that starts around 9:30.