Area movie theaters will be open for Christmas blockbusters, bucking nationwide trend

Entertainment

LIBERTY, Mo. — One of the most anticipated movies of the year, “Wonder Woman 1984” will join “News of the World” in theaters on Christmas Day. 

It could be the busiest day since the pandemic for Kansas City-area theaters at a time when the majority of theaters across the nation have shut down for a second time or never reopened. But because of the changing landscape of movies, theaters are now facing new competition from direct to streaming releases of movies. 

At Liberty’s B & B Theaters, the popcorn was popping Tuesday evening, and people were getting their tickets to see the show. 

Matt Baker and his family saw “The Croods A New Age,” their first trip to theater in a new age for cinema. 

“We want to support all the local businesses here. So it’s great that we can get out and reinvest that money back into these companies and get everyone back on their feet,” Baker said.

Theaters around the metro have remained open since they began showing movies again over the summer. The good news is it’s been easy to social distance, but they haven’t been making much money. 

“Usually there’s nobody in there, nobody around you,” Danny Bradley said before heading into the theater with his son. 

“We are open and treading water as best we can until we can get to a steady stream of vaccine or a steady stream of movies because we need both,” said Bobbie Bagby Ford, executive V.P. of B&B Theatres.

With a majority of theaters shut down around the country, Warner Brothers has already announced all of its movies for the next year starting with “Wonder Woman 1984” will also be available at the same time they hit theaters on HBO MAX.

It’s another blow to an industry already looking at about 10% of its usual revenue for the year.

“I think it’s too early for any of us to make sweeping changes to our industry. My grandfather always said people have a kitchen table, but you still go out to dinner because you crave that interaction. And I think there’s nothing better than laughing with a group of people in an auditorium, and you can’t get that at home,” Bagby Ford said.

If you do head to the theater, they’ll be following worldwide cinema safe protocols that executives say have successfully prevented a single known case of coronavirus from spreading inside.

“Because we are following those, I feel very confident in saying our guests can return and see ‘Wonder Woman’ on the big screen in the way movies were meant to be seen,” Bagby Ford said.

In the past few years, many theaters had already reduced capacity in favor of comfort, which is actually benefitting them now. Many rows are 7 feet apart, so they only have to make sure you aren’t sitting next to anyone not in your group. 

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