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Movie theaters looking for silver linings during closure

Paramount Theater
Work underway at the Paramount Theater in Idaho Falls during coronavirus related closure. (Courtesy of Kent Lott)

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Nobody knows for sure when the next time you’ll be able to walk into a movie theatre is. But, despite the closures, there’s still some action going on at area theaters.

Royal Theaters, the group that owns the Paramount Theater and the Centre in Idaho Falls as well as the Blackfoot Movie Mill, is updating and renovating in some locations.

"We’re adding stadium seating and different chairs and we’re upgrading our sound from 5.1 audio to 7.1 audio. So, we’re doing a pretty big renovation," Royal Theaters owner Kent Lott described of the work underway at the Paramount.

Lott's theaters have been closed for about three weeks, but the closures have cut the drama out of the renovations.

"It’s been nice in the fact that we’re getting a lot of this done quicker," he said. "We were only gonna close the two theatres at the Paramount and now we’ve got all four of them tore apart ... So there’s been some nice things." 

The closures will have a definite impact on business, but Lott said he hasn’t looked too deep into it. Either way, he knows it’s going to sting. 

"I’ve joked since this has started, the name of this should be ‘the kidney stone virus’ because it’s going to be painful for all of us, but it’s going to pass," he said. "Everybody is going to take in some water. We’re probably going to have to spend money we don’t have to get through this."

Even so, Lott believes they'll be "in pretty good shape" due to utilities being the only real expense at this point.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about when theaters will reopen and what will happen when they ultimately do, especially with the delay of many highly anticipated films like 'No Time to Die,' 'Wonder Woman 1984' and 'Black Widow.'

"Let’s just say the first of June we open. Well, there’s only going to be enough product for one or two screens and are the film companies gonna want to release big blockbuster titles if the numbers are marginal because nobody dares come?" 

During the intermission, the community has helped bring in some revenue by purchasing gift certificates online. 

"A lot of people want to support us, even though we’re closed because they want us to be here when life returns to normal," Lott said. "Whatever our new normal may be." 

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