Theaters In Montana Can Reopen Friday But Many Won't

May 14, 2020

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Movie theaters around Montana can reopen on May 15 but the chance to see a movie inside on a big screen is limited.

Despite getting Governor Steve Bullock’s OK to reopen, few movie theaters will be putting movie goers into their auditoriums seats in the next few weeks.

“There’s no movies. There’s nothing to release right now,” says Mike Steinberg, executive director of the Roxy Theater in Missoula.

“That’s not entirely true,” he adds. “There’s some smaller pictures but there’s nothing that warrants, nothing that would make sense financially for us for the cost of running the theater.”

Movie theaters need current movie releases, full auditoriums and concessions to make money. Limiting seating to 50 percent and limiting the number of screenings per day will keep profit margins low.

Large theater chains like Cinemark, which has theaters in Helena, Bozeman and Kalispell, are gearing toward a midsummer opening date when the first major new movie, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” is scheduled for a mid-July release.

Some local movie theaters are taking advantage of the green light and are showing older releases.

Circle Cinema in Circle will open Friday and Saturday with a free showing of the 1984 classic “Footloose.”

The Art House Cinema and Pub in Billings will be reopening over the weekend with a special members-only screening of the 2018’s “Balloon.” The Babcock Theater in Billings will open to the general public starting May 22 with 1993’s “Jurassic Park.”

For other theaters, the wait continues.

“The impact on movie theaters and the Roxy in particular I think is pretty huge,” says Steinberg. “No one could ever see something like this coming.”