Farmington Civic Theater getting creative to stay afloat during pandemic shutdown

The chairs inside the Farmington Civic Theater continue to remain empty, just as they have for the last six months. General manager Scott Freeman wonders how much longer this will last, especially now that movie theaters are the final businesses ordered to keep their doors closed in Michigan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It boggles my mind that movie theaters have not been green-lighted in this section of Michigan yet," Freeman said. 

This theater has been a community staple for nearly 80 years and has just two screens. Freeman believes they've lost around a third of their yearly revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They've gotten creative by selling popcorn and having virtual screenings to help make up some of the money. 

"It doesn't make sense that you can't open up a movie theater where we can strategically every other row and make sure there's a couple seats between each group of people. I'm not sure that anybody can say there's been an explanation that makes sense to us," Freeman said.

FOX 2 reached out to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office Monday asking why movie theaters have to stay closed and when they're expected to be allowed to open again. We are still waiting to hear back. 

Meanwhile, the City of Farmington owns the Civic Theater and Freeman's assuring the community right now it doesn't look like they'll have to lock the doors for good. But, he does worry others might not be able to say the same. 

"It's really hurting, especially the small ones that don't have the capital behind them are at great risk and I think you're going to see a thinning out of smaller theaters."

The theater has already burned through its rainy-day fund and says that the City also gave them money from the general fund. They're hoping those funds will last through December and that, by then, they'll be able to reopen.