Locally-owned movie theater says ‘the show must go on’ when it’s safe

Because of the pandemic, movie theater are closing across the country, as they are not able to show new releases with productions halted and many companies pushing releases to a future date. The impact is even greater on locally owned movie theater.

Locally-owned movie theater says ‘the show must go on’ when it’s safe

CENTER, Texas (KTRE) - Since March 20, the screen at the Rio Movie Theatre in Center has shown no new movies. The chairs have been empty, and no kernels have been bouncing off the glass inside the popcorn machine. Co-owner Nita Adkison says they had originally hoped to be closed just for a few weeks.

“But as the virus got worse, started spreading and becoming such large numbers, then we started realizing that it was not going to be right away and that we were going to be closed a lot longer,” Adkison said.

“I know everybody misses it because it’s one of those things we do as a community,” Center resident Mandy Brantley said. “We go to the movie and spend time together as a community.”

Brantley says the last movie she saw at the Rio was the new edition of ‘Lion King,’ where she noticed a little girl who started singing during the film.

“I flashed this big smile and I started singing," Brantley said. "And then she flashed a big smile, and we were all singing. And everybody was in kind of this big chorus and we had so much fun.”

“We are lucky that we have so many people who love the Rio Theatre,” Adkison said. “They grew up here. There’s generations that grew up here. I mean it was built in 1926. We miss doing this with our community.”

Adkison says it’s been challenging to keep the theater ready, with sanitation protocols in place and general upkeep.

“We’ve been blessed as far as savings but even at that when you start seeing your savings go away, it’s hard," she said. “But God has been good to us.”

Adkison says there is not a set reopen date just yet.

“We’re not going anywhere; you’re stuck with us,” she said. “We’re here for the long haul. We will open back up as quick as we can, but we want to do it in a safe manner. When we get ready to open back up, we’ll do it just like we tell our staff each night before we open: ‘okay kids, get ready, the popcorn hot and we’re ready because it’s showtime!’”

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