Been out on a date night to see a good movie lately? Or escaped your office or hectic family life to relax in a movie theater with a box of popcorn and a soft drink?
Kerrville’s Rio 10 theater at 1401 Bandera Highway is open and offering as many new and favorite movies as they can get, for your entertainment.
Owner Syd Hall continues to manage COVID-19 restrictions, and fight customers’ reluctance to risk public contact, in addition to more limited movie production. His partner is his brother Raymond Hall.
His whole aim is entertaining the public, from children to senior citizens, and the months since spring 2020 have impacted his business every day.
“The virus has had a very large impact on the theater industry.”
First and most severe, Hall said they had to close Kerrville’s and his other theaters in March 2020 under COVID guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. That includes theaters in Beeville, Alice and Kingsville, Texas.
Now he wants Kerrville area residents to know, “We are open here!”
So here’s the theater phone number – 792-5127; and the “movie-line” that tells local residents what’s playing – 792-5170. Or check the website at www.rioentertainment.com/location/9965/Rio-10-Cinemas-Kerrville-Showtimes.
Ticket prices range from $5.41 for matinees to $9.74 for regular adult tickets.
Coping with COVID
“I also hired two epidemiologists to make us operating guidelines,” he said, “and they were probably even a little more stringent than the governor’s.”
As owner of a chain of Texas movie theaters, Hall’s business is a member of the National Association of Theater Owners, and that association also offered a “Save Your Cinema” plan to its members.
Between those two operating guidelines, Hall re-opened Kerrville’s Rio 10 and other theaters with the following precautions:
• Customers and staff wear masks inside;
• Employees have temperatures taken on every shift, and answer health questions;
• Hand sanitizer is provided in all auditoriums;
• All auditoriums are cleaned and sanitized between shows;
• Every other row of seating in each auditorium is blocked; and there are two seats of separation between each seated group or party.
“Customers are asked to self-distance,” Hall said.
Hall and his family have operated movie theaters for more years here than most people realize.
“We operated the original Arcadia Theater and the Rialto Theater downtown here, before,” he said. “After that we had the Plaza off Junction Highway. We had just one screen at first, there, and added two more screens later.”
Rio 10 and ‘content’
“Now at the Rio 10, we have limited days and showtimes; and we’ve been ‘content-driven’ since COVID hit,” Hall said.
He said with so many theaters closed, there has been no place for the usual content to go, that is – or was – created by the movie producers and filmmakers.
So those movie-makers have been creating less “product;” and much of what they made, or are making, has been sent to “streaming services” rather than traditional movie theaters.
This is no small industry. The NATO website says there are more than 35,000 motion picture screens in the United States; and more than 33,000 movie screens in other countries. In the U.S., that includes mostly indoor screens and a much smaller number of outdoor screens.
“The film-makers also postponed other film projects, so they’re not producing as many new films,” Hall said.
Hall has chosen to open the Rio 10 Theater here on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; and remain closed the other three days per week. With most people’s recreation days concentrated on weekends, he hopes area residents will add more movie-going to their weekend plans.
“It’s not just us; it’s happening with every theater across the country. About 40 percent of them are open and the rest are closed,” Hall said. “AMC is the largest group; and they’re about half-closed. And Regal Theaters, the second-largest, is still closed until further notice.”
Under previous and “normal” conditions, his usual acquisition process included getting a list of films that were to be released – though those lists changed weekly or even hourly sometimes.
“There used to be six or more new films by each weekend,” Hall said. “Now the majority of new films have been postponed or sent to streaming.”
The good news for Jan. 30-31 was that he could debut one new film, by Denzel Washington, “The Little Things.”
In this more electronic age, he said, before COVID, films were delivered to him by satellite weekly, but not accessible until the film companies sent him encryption keys to “unlock” them and allow them to be shown on his movie screens.
“People don’t realize that, in the ‘old’ days, two cans of film, physically delivered to a theater, used to weight 90 pounds. Now the theater has a server to download the films.”