Movie theaters battle streaming services this holiday season

Maumee Indoor Theater is adapting its business to keep the in-person cinema experience alive and well
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 7:49 PM EST
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MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - This Christmas, long-awaited movie releases, Wonder Woman 1984 and Disney Pixar’s Soul didn’t exactly soar onto the big screen. The movies dropped on streaming services instead of arriving only to theaters.

The option to stream new releases leaves some movie theaters figuring out how to still draw moviegoers to the in-person experience.

“Everyone realizes that they could probably stream it at home, but they want the experience, and that’s what we give them,” said Maumee Indoor Theater Executive Director Tom Gillem.

The Maumee Indoor Theater has been a fixture on Conant Street since 1946. The cinema’s endless red velvet seats sit emptier thanks to the pandemic.

“This is such a hard time for so many businesses, and especially anything that has to do with entertainment,” said Maumee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristin Meyer. “Entertainment usually means being in groups larger than 10 at a time.”

Since reopening in June, Gillian has spent countless hours reshaping his business.

“Movie theaters are fortunate in a way that it was always kind of socially distanced,” said Gillian. “When people come in the theater they don’t want to sit next to anyone anyway.”

On top of thorough cleaning procedures put in place, theater staff has had to get creative to draw in audiences. This holiday season the theater chose to showcase Christmas favorites.

“A lot of people I think were just kind of getting cabin fever and wanting to get out so they saw a classic film on the big screen,” said Gillian. “So movie-wise we’ve done pretty good for the past few weeks.”

Even with the latest blockbusters arriving for viewers to watch from the comfort of their own homes, Gillian believes the magic of going to the movies will not die.

“People realize they can stream these things at home but yet they want to see it up on the marquee, they want to come in under the lights, by their ticket at the box office, and walk into the theater,” said Gillian. “People come for the experience just as much as they come for what film is screening that day.”

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