With movie theaters shuttered across the country, we can still recreate aspects of the moviegoing experience at home, thanks to big-ass smart TVs and video streaming. But there’s still a key factor missing, the reason some of us opt to see pretty much any movie on the big screen: the concessions. And some clever cinemas are staying afloat by selling their one-of-a-kind popcorn and candy curbside.
Michael Phillips, film critic for the Chicago Tribune, wrote on Sunday about the experience of picking up drive-thru popcorn at the historic Pickwick Theater in suburban Park Ridge. The co-owner of the Pickwick described the initial rollout of curbside concessions delivery “very successful”: between 300 and 400 cars on the very first night. Writes Phillips, “It’s a heartening reminder, he said, that in the absence of actual, pre-pandemic moviegoing there’s still an appetite for what we like about it.” (Even if It Chapter Two kind of sucked, the Airheads Xtremes Bites I ate during the carnage did not.)
In addition to fresh popcorn—which is handed off with a tub of “butter,” i.e. oil, on the side so you can apportion it to your liking—customers can pick up movie theater classics like Dots or other cardboard boxes full of candy. The Pickwick isn’t the only theater to adopt this model while closed to the public; in fact, the owners started it up after hearing about successful popcorn nights at other theaters. (Check to see whether your own local movie house is doing something like this!) As these businesses file for PPP loans and hope for the best, this novel method of community outreach is one way to help bridge the gap. As one owner of a suburban chain of cinemas told Phillips, “It’s an interesting time. You’ve got to be creative.”