DEWITT — Ben and Laura Miers, managers of the Operahouse Theatre in DeWitt, have announced they will temporarily close the theater beginning Monday, and reopen in the spring.
The Miers say the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the trend of movie producers releasing new movies directly to in-home streaming services, caused them to make the “difficult decision” to temporarily close.
“We always strive to give our customers the best possible movie-going experience, and, as hard as we’ve tried, there are just too many obstacles that continue to hinder our business,” Laura Miers said.
“Closing now will give us the best chance to be able to reopen when things improve.”
While the theater won’t be screening movies, the Miers said some other events are in the works.
February is “Love Your Theater Month,” and both the Operahouse and the DeWitt Theater Company still plan on celebrating, according to a press release sent by the theater.
Feb. 5-7, the theater will celebrate its anniversary weekend virtually with prizes and other activities. On Valentine’s Day weekend, it will offer “Valentine date night concession packages” to go. These concessions packages, which will include the Operahouse’s popcorn, will be available for pickup and delivery.
The decision to close was supported by the DeWitt Theater Co., the nonprofit organization that owns and maintains the building. The company will help with fixed costs while the business is closed.
“We are very grateful to have The DeWitt Theater Company, who recognizes the importance of having the Operahouse in our community,” Laura Miers said.
John Peavey, DeWitt Theater Co. president, said continuing to show movies with low-to-zero attendance would result a serious depletion of funds. The temporary closure can reduce all but essential expenses and cut those losses to about $800 per month, in addition to the loss of rental receipts.
In the press release, the theater company and Operahouse management thanked loyal customers, and the entire community. The DeWitt Theater Co. is supported by donations. Anyone interested in donating can send their contributions to DeWitt Theater Co. and to First Central State Bank, attn. John Jackson, PO Box 200, DeWitt, Iowa 52742.
“We want the Operahouse to be around for many more generations to enjoy, so we will be back when we have more great movies to show,” Laura Miers said. “Thank you for understanding, and we look forward to seeing you again in the spring.”