How do you lose the same job twice? A global pandemic, that’s how.
The first time I lost my job at the Regal Theater in Longmont was because of the outbreak in March, and I was out of work for five months before the theater reopened at the end of August. I went back to work and business… was not booming. Now with the announcement that the new James Bond film No Time To Die has been pushed back to April 2021, theaters can no longer sustain themselves. Regal sent an email to employees a couple weeks ago, notifying us of their second firing: “It is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to temporarily close our Regal theaters after close of business on Thursday, October 8.”
We were open for two sad, slow months. I remember working a shift and I was the only employee working for the entire day. We had about three people come in that entire day. I wondered why we were even open if no one was going to come in, then I realized this could be a much bigger problem.
What a lot of people don’t know is theaters don’t actually get a lot of money at all, and going to the movies is going out of style recently. Lots of films are going directly to streaming, and with rising prices, people don’t want to go to the movies unless there’s something they have to see before everyone spoils it, like the latest MCU movie or Star Wars film. However, with those Disney films, we have to keep them on a bunch of our screens for weeks at a time (even though most people watch those movies on the opening weekend) and we get less than 20% of the ticket price (most of our money is actually made on concessions). The Longmont Regal has been going downhill, and the outbreak just pushed the company over the edge.
Regal wasn’t even able to pay their employees. After the first time we closed, we were left with twenty people on our full staff, which includes concessionists, theater cleaners, and ticket takers. Sometimes when working on concessions I would also need to take the tickets. The worst part was we had to fire our late-night custodians and take on their jobs. We were selling tickets for old movies for $5 and eager for new movies to come out so we could finally get some business.
But they never came, and never will.
All Regal locations over the U.S. and U.K. closed on October 8, some of them indefinitely, including mine. Teen workers like myself feel a lot of pressure after losing a job to a disaster, as we can’t apply for unemployment benefits until we’re 18. That doesn’t change the fact that we have phone bills and car insurance to pay. So now, my coworkers and I have to scramble and find new jobs. Young and old workers alike all feel the repercussions of losing a job this suddenly. Some of my managers had been working for Regal since they were teenagers, and now they must wait until they reopen, if they ever do.
What used to be the best and easiest job ever has turned into something very ugly and sad. My last few weeks there, I remember feeling like the job was different–in some way that was more than just less business. It was less of everything. My paychecks were small because I was only scheduled to work once a week, a lot of my favorite coworkers didn’t come back and managers were stricter than ever. If anything, I would’ve eventually left myself if they hadn’t done it for me. And that sucks because that job was once the best job I could imagine.
But who knows. Wonder Woman is still supposed to come out on Christmas. Maybe third time will be the charm.