Victory Theatre still a community staple

Parry and Fred Baldwin stand as the new owners of the Victory Theater in Kemmerer in September 2017.

The Victory Theater has been a staple of the community for a long time and that hasn’t changed during COVID-19. Parry and Fred Baldwin said that although they had to shut down for six months in the beginning, the theater is still open for business.

“It never really made money,” Parry Baldwin said. “It has been harder during COVID-19, but we did get some COVID-19 relief money and that helped a little, but it’s gone now.”

The Baldwins said they are still paying off the remodel that took place a year ago.

Even though the theater is open to limited capacity, the Baldwins say they are going to play movies when they can.

“It’s more than just a movie now,” Fred Baldwin said. “It’s a socializing thing. It’s something to get out of the house.”

Even though new movies aren’t coming out, the Baldwins have found old movies to play for residents.

“We don’t charge for the old movies because then we would have to pay the film company for it,” Parry said. “Usually, it’s about $250 upfront and then more if 35% of sales exceeds that $250.”

Fred said that this is why movie theaters charge so much for concessions because not much money is made off of the tickets, especially for small theaters.

When asked about how COVID-19 has affected theaters, Fred said that theaters were in trouble even before the pandemic.

“People can stream the new movies just a couple weeks after they are released in theaters,” Fred said. “They can stay at home and sit on the couch.” Fred said that this has been affecting theaters, but particularly small theaters like Victory Theater.

The Baldwins said that they will stay open through COVID-19 if they can, but it depends on the industry.

“If big theaters shut down, they won’t push out any new movies for even longer,” Parry said. “Before, some movies weren’t being released to small theaters at all.”

While a lot of the future remains unknown because of COVID-19, the Baldwins are grateful for the support and patience of the community. They are the technical support for the theater most of the time and appreciated the patience when it comes to tech errors.

The Baldwins said that they know the community is always there when they need help. During the renovations, volunteers came to help wash seats, haul items and more.

“We really appreciate all of the help from the community,” Fred said.

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