ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Christmas is usually one of the busiest days of the years for movie theaters, but 2020 has been anything but usual.
Like every Christmas, the smell of fresh popcorn greets moviegoers as they walk into Emagine Theatre in Royal Oak. Unlike every Christmas, they can only get some as they walk out.
“We got popcorn to go,” laughed Jonathan Lauter.
No concessions, limited capacity and masks all make this Christmas at the movies different. With a handful of new releases, it’s a day the industry relies on.
“Glad people are coming out to see Wonder Woman," said Emagine Royal Oak Theater Manager Raphael Gilmer.
Gilmer had just been promoted at the start of the year, before box office sales plummeted. Even with a number of sold-out shows today, the theater was never more than 25% full.
“This too shall pass," Gilmer said. "That’s the way I see it. This too shall pass.”
Meticulously cleaning every seat, running a movie theater is a lot more work. However it's worth it to give families a quality Christmas.
“Haven't been to the movie in 9 months," Lauter said. "It’s my birthday and it’s Christmas so we rented a little private theater for the family.”
Lauter brought his extended family along, giving every household their own row, spreading love to each other from around the theater.
“I don't think we missed out on too much," Lauter said. "We’ve missed out on a lot this year but Christmas was still a nice time with the family.”
Instead of focusing on what makes this Christmas different, these families focus on what makes it special. At the end of the day, you can still get your popcorn with extra butter to top it off.
“Be thankful for what you have," said moviegoer Imahn Harvery. "Love your family, and stay strong."
With 25% capacity some of these theaters can fill up quickly, and Emagine Theaters ask you to buy tickets in advance online.