The Box Office Is Down, So How Can You Support Dallas Theaters?

The Texas Theater opened its new second-floor screening room on Wednesday. Support them!
The Texas Theater opened its new second-floor screening room on Wednesday. Support them! Kathy Tran
In case you hadn’t noticed, movie theaters have been in a bit of a sticky situation lately. While COVID-19 seemed to shorten the shelf-life of the traditional theaters, the rise of streaming content and “peak TV” certainly didn't help. Many local theaters have been closing of late, which left a lot of theater workers out of work.

The pandemic also solidified our collective taste for watching movies in our sweats while sprawled in bed and almost made us forget the important space that cinemas can hold within communities: A movie theater is still an ideal date spot, a neutral, public space to meet up with people you've yet to know well. They're also one of few spots where young people can hang with their friends without dad telling embarrassing jokes.

Small theaters in particular also play an important part in shaping the entire film industry.

The Last Duel, a recently released major medieval drama by veteran filmmaker Ridley Scott, had all the makings of a hit. It tells a timely story and stars Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver and Killing Eve breakout star Jodie Comer, yet it’s been bombing financially. It’s not the only major film to underperform. Even the highly anticipated new James Bond film No Time To Die is coming in below expectations.

Contrary to what the industry's corporate overlords want you to believe, the industry can’t rely only on the success of superhero movies and major movie chains. Here are 10 ways you can support local theaters in this time of crisis.

1. Choose Theater Releases When You Have The Chance

Many films are headed simultaneously to both streaming services and multiplexes, but do you really want to watch Michael Meyers wreak havoc from your couch? Choosing to make it a night out is particularly helpful to support films with diverse casts, like the latest Netflix films Passing and The Harder They Fall.

2. Look At Locally Based Chains
Dallas has gems such as the newly expanded Texas Theater, and even if they’re technically part of a larger chain, the local Angelika and Alamo Drafthouse theaters retain a niche “indie” vibe in their support of independent and cult movies.

3. Look Out For Film Festivals

Film festivals aren’t just for coffee slurping hipsters. This year’s Dallas International Film festival included a number of major awards players such as The French Dispatch, C’mon, C’mon and Belfast. If you’re not sure where to start, look at the lineup for Fort Worth’s upcoming Lone Star Film Festival.

4. Take a Chance on Local Films
We all know about the big titles out right now like Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Halloween Kills, but maybe you’d appreciate seeing something a little closer to home? One great option right now is Justin Corsbie's Hard Luck Love Song, which is hitting theaters after wowing audiences at last year’s Austin Film Festival.

5. Speciality Events Are Fun!
It's not just The Rocky Horror Picture Show; seeing beloved favorites on the big screen, such as the Angelika chain's lineup of Hitchcock classics, is a great way to enjoy the all-time greats in the way they deserve to be watched.

6. Keep Your Own Damn Food At Home!

We get it. It’s a whole lot easier to sneak in some cheap Walmart snacks than pay for the expensive theater food, but theaters earn a majority of their earnings from the cut they get on retail items.

7. Don’t Be The Phone Guy, Either.
We don’t want to repeat the same automated messages you’re bound to hear in front of trailers at your local Cinemark, but don’t save your silence just for A Quiet Place. Your phone's going off is the type of thing that discourages people from showing up to theaters in the first place. This won't help theaters immediately, but the more obnoxious you are at the theater, the more you're encouraging others to stay home. Yes, you.

8. Tip Your Servers!
Don’t be like Steve Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs. Your popcorn guy is doing the Lord’s work.

9. Subscribe to Movie Deals

In an effort to encourage moviegoers to actually go to the movies, many chains have deals allowing a small subscription to see an insane number of movies per month. Even if you don't use them all, you can give them to family and friends.

10. Buy gift cards

Nothing says "I love you" like "You need to GTFO of house sometimes," the ultimate sentiment behind the giving of gift cards. Support your lazy friend's health by at least forcing him to get in the car to drive from one seat to another, and support your local theaters at the same time even if his lazy ass doesn't end up going. It's a win-win.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.