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Arkansas movie theatre owner expecting boom in business amid omicron surge

With more movies hitting the big screen, movie theatre owners expect to see more people even as COVID cases rise due to the omicron variant.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If you're not traveling this holiday weekend, maybe you are heading to the movie theatre!

In 2020, there weren't many movies hitting the big screen, but that's different this year.

It's not a secret that the pandemic has changed a lot of things like the entertainment industry for example.

With new movies hitting the big screen, the owner of Theatre Group, Inc. Matt Smith said he is hoping more people being to fill the seats.

"Well, people want to go to movies. And so all you have to do for people to go to the movies is just release the movies," Smith said. 

For a while in the pandemic, movie productions or sitting in the theatre was something many people could not do.

"Theaters were forced to close back in March of 2020. Never in the past 125 years has that happened," Smith said.

Now with the big release of movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Smith said that is why he believes more people are coming back to the theatres. 

"When you see those releases that are coming, those hits that are on the calendar to come out, the attendance at movie theaters going forward will be astronomical," Smith said.

Much like a lot of locally owned and operated businesses, Smith admits the theatre took a financial hit in 2020 after being closed for nearly 8 weeks in March.

"It's still a financial burden. It was tough. When we were able to reopen, we could reopen, but we did not have any new movies to play," Smith said.

The omicron variant is now another hurdle.

Even with more movie goes heading to the cinema, he said it's not anything he is worried about and he will continue to keep visitors and staff safe.

"Movie going in itself is a young-person driven activity," Smith said.

While he said it will take some time for business to match pre-pandemic sales, he adds he is grateful to work toward a little normalcy.

"We're glad everybody's back coming out buying tickets, buying food buying popcorn. We've been blessed by customers and we are so so so thankful," Smith said.

He said is expecting Christmas Day, December 25 to be very busy with customers.

He is also still dealing with pandemic woes such as operating at about 20% of staff and supply chain issues.