‘Not everyone is going to survive’: Chicago movie theaters continue to struggle amid pandemic

Coronavirus

CHICAGO – Movie theaters have always been there to bring it to audiences first. But like many things, COVID-19 has changed that.   

For more than a year, most theaters have sat vacant or nearly empty, causing theater chain AMC to declare bankruptcy and call it quits on Navy Pier’s 300-seat IMAX theater. 

Most recently, Arclight Cinemas announced plans to close its doors. 

Christopher Parrish, is a professor at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts, says independent, mom and pop theater chains have suffered the most because their money is made on concessions, popcorn, candy and drinks – not the movie itself.  And with limited capacity, many have been forced to reinvent themselves with not much success. 

“I believe the theater chains will bounce back, but a lot of mom and pops have not had the deep pockets that a lot of the major corporations that own theater chains have had in surviving this very long storm,” he said. 

 During the “very long storm,” many have taken to streaming movies and watch from their couches. 

“You want to hear the screams and the laughter and everything else, it’s part of the human experience,” Parrish said. 

The million dollar question is when as health officials hope more vaccinations will eventually end the pandemic. 

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