‘Sometimes you feel like this is it, this could be the end’: Theater owner reflects on pandemic challenges

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 9-year-old Isaac Maxwell is seeing the Boss Baby movie with his mom and brother today. But it’s been so long, he forget what kind of snacks the theater even serves.

“I’m guessing… To take a guess like one year ago,” Maxwell said.

After a tornado in 2019, a fire in 2020 and then a global pandemic, it’s been a rough few years for West Mall 7.

“Sometimes you feel like this is it. This could be the end. And then you hear that there’s help from the government or from federal which there has been. But of course, you know the communication—they say that there’s help but then we wait quite a while to actually get the help,” owner Todd Frager said.

The pandemic forced movie studios to stop or delay production.

“I think there’s movies out there, they just haven’t released them because they don’t want to release these pictures without attendance, which makes sense. You know you don’t want to put your product out there because you can only put it out there once,” Frager said.

The theater is only seeing half of its regular attendance.

“Pictures are everything. Now that they’re releasing on a little bit more full schedule, people are starting to come back. And it’s just going to take product and movies,” Frager said.

The theater doesn’t expect to be back to regular attendance until the holiday season.

“The movie industry has definitely changed,” Frager said. “And we don’t know exactly how yet. We’ll just have to adapt to it, move forward, and do the best we can for that. But the habits are going to change. And they’ll hopefully change back or get better, or we’ll just adapt to what it is.”

If you’re interested in attending a showing at West Mall 7, take a look at their showtimes here.

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