‘Tis the Season to Get To Work!

Do movie theaters need to be open on holidays??

It’s Thanksgiving time so once again there are stories about the employees at retail stores complaining that they work on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, those stories seem to forget the THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE who work EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Several companies have people working on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and every other holiday. People are working every day – some companies are working 24 hours a day – no matter what day it is. This includes the police dept, fire dept, hospitals, airports/airlines, train stations/trains, bus stations/busses, subways, taxi drivers, hotels, gas stations, television stations, radio stations, internet sites, casinos, amusement parks, and movie theaters. 

Although I’ve heard that some movie theaters in small towns are closed on holidays, in big cities they’re open every day of the year. I worked at a movie theater for over a decade. The ONLY day we were ever closed is the day of the Northridge earthquake on Jan 17, 1994. We had to close to inspect the building and repair any damage. Although there was an earthquake that morning, we still had some phone calls from customers asking, “are you open?”. One time someone that answered the phone asked if there was damage in the person’s house. There was? Well, there’s also damage here! Fortunately, there was only minor damage and the movie theater reopened the next day – other movie theaters in the area had extensive damage. 

Except for that one day, the movie theater was open every day. Open on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Sometimes there were movies still playing at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Thankfully, movie theaters aren’t normally open 24 hours a day like other businesses (police dept, fire dept, hospitals, casinos, etc.). I have a friend that worked in a Las Vegas casino. He has worked every holiday including overnight shifts. He’s even worked at midnight on New Year’s Eve/Day (the busiest night of the year in Las Vegas). 

However – after movie theaters closed for several months during the pandemic shutdown in 2020/2021 – I wondered why movie theaters are open every day including holidays. Movie theaters aren’t really a necessary company. 

I understand that the police department is working all the time because there are crimes all the time. The fire department is working all the time in case there’s a fire or an emergency. The hospitals are open all the time because there’s people injured or sick. Airlines, trains, busses, and gas stations are open because people are travelling every day. However, other companies aren’t that essential. 

I would agree that if you turned on your television, or your radio, or got on the internet on Thanksgiving morning and all you saw was a note saying they were closed for the holiday, there would probably be thousands of complaints. That’s why those companies continued to work during the pandemic. However, during the pandemic, businesses like casinos, amusement parks, and movie theaters were closed. 

So, why is it so important for movie theaters to be open every day including holidays? I’m sure that people who want to go to a movie on a holiday would be upset – just like the Griswold family was upset that the amusement park was closed in the movie “National Lampoons Vacation” – but people don’t drive across the country to go to the movie theater. They can just come back another day to see the movie. 

The only answer that I know of is the money. It’s the same reason some companies permanently closed during the pandemic. They need money to keep operating and the only way to get money is to be open for customers. Several movie theater chains and movie studios are still trying to recover from all the money they lost during the pandemic. 

The movie theaters – as well as casinos, amusement parks, some supermarkets, and other businesses – are open every holiday so they can make money. Even sports teams play games on most holidays – which means there are HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE working including the staff of wherever they’re playing (parking, security, ticket sellers, concessions, maintenance, etc.), the television crew broadcasting the game (cameras, announcers, crew, etc.) and the sport teams (players, coaches, trainers, etc.). More people can attend the game or watch it on television on a holiday. 

The next time you go to a movie theater on a holiday remember that the employees could be home enjoying the holiday with their families like you are, but they’re working so that you can see whatever movie you want to see.