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The preservation of movie theaters in 2023

Posted at 4:35 PM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 23:17:27-05

INDIANAPOLIS — In the 1950’s, movie theaters used to screen movies on a sixteen-millimeter projector. Now in the time of a pandemic and streaming, we’re wondering if theaters still have a place in 2023.

If you step away from black and white films and into the modern age of cinema, you’ll find that fountain drinks and the smell of popcorn still fill the air, but does the in-person cinema still persevere today?

WRTV Anchor, Megan Shinn, went to the Kan Kan Cinema in Indianapolis. She asked Andrea Watts, the Director of Advancement, if they are still seeing as many people come to the local theater.

“I would say yes. I think after the pandemic, people are now kind of shaking off being so isolated. They want that shared experience of being back at the movie theater," Watts said.

The Kan Kan is the only art house cinema non-profit in the city.

“So, we have a little bit of a different model than a big box cinema,” Watts said. “We have affordable concessions. We have discounted rates or free screenings, and it’s just a really exciting place to be. It’s a place for everyone.”

This theater builds a community to draw in crowds. The Kan Kan knows what it’s like to preserve in the movie business.

“Our grand opening was supposed to be march of 2020, the worst time for the cinemas and hospitality industry, but we survived it. We were doing outdoor screenings at a few places. We were also doing interactive (screenings), like people watching together and chatting about the film. So, we’re finding ways to get people into the movie theater,” said Watts.

According to the domestic movie theater market summary from the Numbers dot com, annual ticket sales dropped to about 800-million last year; in 2019 it was more than one billion.

“Movie theaters have been around as long as movies have been around,” Alicia Kozma, the Director at I.U. Cinema, said.

She told us movies always have a place.

“It’s not new that we like participating in culture with other people and that we like talking about it and being in spaces that give us the opportunity to do that,” Kozma said.

There's a social component, but there's also a financial component too. In the world of streaming with Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Apple TV Movies, are movie theaters still able to compete?

"One of the biggest public services that movie theaters provide is that curation aspect of saying we did all this research, we did all this digging for you, and we really think these are the titles that are absolutely worth your time and your money this week," Kozma said.

Instead of wasting time sifting through streaming, Kozma recommends letting others do the work for you.

“If you like a movie theater, keep going to it because that’s the reason they’re there, and they need your patronage to keep providing you with the services you like so much,” said Kozma.

It’s a tale as old as time, finding a reprieve from reality at a theater. Keeping movies alive in our community from the 50’s and beyond.

The Indy film fest is scheduled for April 19th-23rd. It’ll be online and at the Kan Kan cinema.

To celebrate the Oscars, Kan Kan showed Oscar animated and documentary shorts.

The academy awards will be live on Sunday night on WRTV. The Pre-show starts at 6:30PM. Awards will kick off at 8:00PM.

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