The pandemic and online streaming services are challenging cinemas; local cinema giving back to the community
PERRY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with online streaming services, is now challenging the future of movie theaters. Despite this, a local theater thanks its community for supporting a film festival.
Utah’s entertainment industry suffered a $ 75 million blow last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Northern Utah Walker Cinemas Theater affected by Hollywood filming delays and COVID-19 restrictions.
“People want to get out and out of reality, but with the pandemic and everything, it’s really hard,” said Kelly Walker, owner of Walker Cinemas. “Hollywood has closed its doors completely, no product is really, really difficult.”
“Our biggest [theater] 290 seats, ”said Connor Bennion, director of Walker Cinemas. “But with the pandemic, you cut it in half to 145, and then it’s the concept of social distancing.”
Walker Cinemas theaters closed for two months at the start of the pandemic. Three of the four theaters are now open.
Walker said online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu were a game-changer as well.
“Right now we’re competing with video on demand; you can see it at the theater or see it at home, ”he said. “In my opinion, there won’t be as many films coming out in the future. Hopefully, it’s just the big blockbusters that people want to see. “
Walker believes the theatrical experience won’t go away, but it could come at a cost.
“As we said in the 80s, VHS will kill theaters. Where are we now? “Walker says.” We are trying – or we are trying. The theaters will always be there. The question is, ‘What will the price be?’
This northern Utah family business had all the support it could get in what they said was one of its toughest years yet.
“Desire to see people lined up all along the door. But also, that sense of hope that we have the greatest community we could ask for, ”said Connor Bennion.
“It was important for us to give back to our community because they were there from day one,” said Shawn Bennion, the event coordinator for the cinema.
The theater will host its second community film festival on May 17e to 19e at Walker Cinemas in Perry.
The community is invited to attend for free.
“It’s all supposed to be about the community and how do we get them involved and bring them back to the theater and show it’s a safe place to be,” said Shawn Bennion.
Film submissions must be submitted by Sunday May 9e. The winners of the festival will receive cash prizes and their film will be shown on the big screen.