Welcome back: A return to making Hollywood part of holiday plans

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
A couple enjoys a meal with a movie at Schulman's Movie Bowl and Grill in Sherman.

People find a number of ways to spend the rest of Thanksgiving day after they have eaten their feast. Some play touch football while others may take a walk or a nap.

And, some like to go to the movies.

Local theaters are ready and more than willing to welcome those folks back to holiday movie magic as 2021 has seen an uptick in movies and movie goers following shutdowns in 2020 due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are still in this pandemic bubble that we just can't seem to get out of so we still take our customers safety and our own safety as top priority so something that we do for our movie goers is that we all seating reserved online," said Schulman's Movie Bowl and Grill Director of Marketing Emily Bell.  

Schulman's in Sherman temporarily shutdown on March 17, 2020 due the the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened to the public about two months later in May. Since that time, the theater has opened a drive-in theater and other measures aimed at safety for site patrons and employees.

Customers can choose their seats ahead of time, and the theater has built in a one seat buffer zone around family groups.

"We understand that people still don't want to sit next to strangers," Bell said.

In addition, cleaning protocols are still in place.

"We're constantly cleaning every single surface that anyone can touch multiple times a day," Bell said.

That includes cleaning every seat, tray, and door handle is cleaned between shows.

And, the shows themselves are coming back. Already, the new Ghostbusters movie is in the theater, and then over Christmas they are anticipating the release of "Sing 2" which is bound to be a family favorite.

Historically, the most popular times to visit the theater have been holiday weekends.

“The pandemic has negatively impacted every traditionally important box office holiday from Memorial weekend to Fourth of July, and even sidelined the almighty summer movie season, so it’s no surprise that Thanksgiving would be impacted as well,” Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian said in a 2020 CNBC article.

Box office records show that nationally, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars is spent on tickets at theaters. Sales of theater goods and specialty items, like limited edition shirts, cups and more, multiplies theater profits during the season.

"In the last decade, the five-day Thanksgiving spread — consisting of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through Sunday — has resulted in more than $250 million in ticket sales each year," the CNBC article said. "The only two years that didn’t hit this threshold were 2011 and 2014, but the box office tally still surpassed $230 million in each case."

Of course, Schulman's is more than a movie theater.

So, people can also enjoy the arcade or bowling after that Thanksgiving feast and maybe practice a little axe throwing as a way to blow to some steam if those political discussions over the pumpkin pie got too intense.

Schulman's is not the only movie theater in Sherman.

More:AMC, Regal and Cinemark close all movie theaters amid coronavirus pandemic

The theater with more than 331 theaters nation wide with 86 in Texas shut down in March of 2020 and opened to the public in April of the same year. 

Though the closing was just a few months, Cinemark is still dealing with side effects of the shutdown. According to the Motion Picture Association, box office dollars were down 80 percent and ticket sales were down 81 percent in 2020, and a majority of Americans — 54 percent — didn’t enter a movie theater during the 2020 calendar year.

Normally, this number sits at just under 25 percent.

More:Movie theaters would be among the first businesses to reopen after coronavirus under Trump plan

Cinemark officials referred the Herald Democrat to online information which showed that all staff are required to wear mask and that cleaning protocols were similar to those described at Schulman's. They also have the option to pick seats in advance.

And, guests who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 are asked to wear masks.

As the 2021 box office year continues, Cinemark is looking towards the same gains at Schulman's with projections showing interest in 2021 end of year releases including House of Gucci, Nightmare Alley, West Side Story, Spiderman: No Way Home and The Matrix.