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‘It just hurts’: Mitchell Theaters awaits and plans for the return of business

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Major movie theater chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas have been closed since March 17. They aren’t the only ones dealing with the unexpected twist.

“You went to zero revenue just overnight, literally,” said Brian Mitchell, co-owner of Mitchell Theaters.

The immediate pause on business has lead to more than 300 layoffs across their 15 theaters.

“It just hurts to walk in a big ‘ole empty building and know you’re not showing the magic of movies with people,” said Mitchell.

They are hoping to re-open during phase two of Governor Laura Kelly’s plan. Mitchell says it won’t be business as usual though.

“Could be 30 people or more for that next phase, which would allow social distancing and other things. You know obviously, scheduling show times farther apart, so you don’t have as many people in the lobby at the same time.”

When that opening date comes Mitchell says they will be showing older movies from the vault at a discount rate.

“This is a way to slowly get back in. You know, get our toe back in the water, and hopefully, if you go a few weeks of retro movies and people start feeling comfortable again. Then by the time summer blockbusters open up, everybody will be ready.”

Despite streaming competition, Mitchell feels the closure could help business in the long run,

“When you’ve got the choice between movie theaters and streaming, that’s one thing. But when you don’t have that choice, you sure miss it.”

Mitchell says not all of their Kansas theaters will be on the same timeline. He suspects Newton and El Dorado could open up when allowed. However, locations in Garden City and Liberal might have to wait because of proximity to the meatpacking plants.

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