When the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chadron more than a year ago, it closed down the majority of businesses in town. As the months went on, those businesses provided new options to serve customers and slowly reopened to the public. However, the Eagle Theatre on Main Street remained dark, with many questioning whether its screens would light again.
The answer came a few weeks ago with the buzz that the theater was, in fact, reopening the weekend of April 2-4. On Wednesday, theater owners Craig and Janine Bullard were busy getting the Eagle ready for the big day.
Craig said the theater is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the foreseeable future, with movies shown at 7:15 p.m. There will also be a regular 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinee, though not this week on Easter Sunday. Ticket prices are unchanged, at $8 for anyone 12 and older, $6 for 11 and under, and seniors. Matinee seats are $6 for anyone.
As to why the theater is not going to a full-week schedule, Craig said it was in response to business volumes, and many smaller areas have theaters that are weekends only. Janine added there is not enough product, and they don’t want to get to where there’s only three people a night because they’re open seven nights a week.
In terms of product, Craig explained the film companies have made the windows much smaller for when movies are in theaters. As theaters closed down during the pandemic, movie studios turned to streaming services for revenue, which resulted in movies seeing only a few weeks of theater time before becoming available to watch at home.
Craig noted the window for theatrical release 30 years ago was an average of 6 weeks, then shrunk to about 90 days before the big push to streaming.
There are no Directed Health Measures requiring people to wear masks or social distance, though Janine said the theater is no longer refilling popcorn buckets. These buckets could be purchased and taken home, then brought back and filled for a lower cost. She said eliminating the refills helps reduce the possibility of cross-contamination.
Janine said they appreciate everyone’s loyalty, support and patience in getting the theater up and running again. Opening weekend will see “Godzilla vs. Kong”, “The Croods: A New Age” and “Tom & Jerry”