TORRINGTON – Anyone walking down 20th Ave on Friday, June 26 could smell the buttered popcorn ahead of the Wyoming Movie Theatre box office’s 7 p.m. opening. After just nine people visited the theater on Friday, owner Kathi Rickard decided not to show movies as planned on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday’s showings marked the first since March 17, the last day the theater was open since they were ordered to close due to COVID-19. The Avengers and Zootopia showed, thanks to Disney’s four-week program allowing movie theaters to show older movies, being that there are no new movies being released amid the pandemic.
According to theater owner Kathi Rickard, these discounted movie offerings, along with public interest, were factors in their decision to reopen.
“Lots of people kept calling and texting, asking when we were going to reopen,” Rickard said.
Wyoming Theatre announced their reopening on their Facebook page, and despite positive comments on the post, they later announced that they would opt to close Saturday and Sunday due to Friday’s lack of visitors. Instead of showing movies Saturday night, the theater sold popcorn for two hours, which they had been doing on Fridays for the past few weeks.
“We can’t show you a movie, but we can give you movie popcorn, which everybody loves,” Rickard said.
The Nile Theater in Mitchell, Neb., also reopened for movies and then reverted back to just selling popcorn.
Friday’s temporary reopening allowed staff to practice safety measures put in place due to the coronavirus. Along with hand sanitizer for guests and masks and gloves for employees, social distancing is required in the lobby and theater. Patrons sit in every other row with four seats of distance between each group, according to Rickard.
When the theater reopens permanently, staff will disinfect the upper and lower theaters between each showing.
Wyoming Theatre owners have not announced plans to reopen.