Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Airra Saunders
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Theater survival uncertain as it reopens showing classics


The theater in Moose Lake has been in business for 101 years, but the theater's current owner and manager, Walt Lower, said he is nervous about the ability of the theater to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a setback from the coronavirus pandemic, the Moose Lake movie theater, Lake Theater, is finally able to reopen for the summer of 2020. "We're definitely really happy about being able to get back to business," says the owner and manager Walt Lower. "We are also nervous," he goes on to say, "we can only show older classic films until about mid-July."

Along with the other coronavirus basics like sanitizing, keeping a six-feet distance, and following the governments' limited capacity rule, the theater is mostly worried about their movie selections. There are no new films being sent to theaters right now.

Because of the pandemic, movie production across the globe has shut down. "We could see a potential gap in movies being released in the future. Many movies are made overseas and globally there have been no movies being made for months.

Theaters can expect to start playing new movies again that were unable to be released during the COVID-19 shutdown come the fall of 2020 or early 2021. "Unfortunately, the future of our business is up in the air," says Lower. The theater in Moose Lake has been in business for 101 years. The current theater building was built just six months after the 1918 Fires of Moose Lake.

"It's shocking how hard this pandemic has hurt our business," shares Lower. "We've survived everything: the first pandemic with the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression which lasted 10 years, WWII and all the market crashes since."

Now the theater is unsure of what to expect. "We also have to be selective about the classics we play. I'm not allowed to show any Disney or Fox movies," explains Lower. Jaws was the first classic shown; Grease and Despicable Me are next.

"It gives people in the local area something to go do," Lower says. "It's a place you can go with your family or bring a date. There's a lot of nostalgia because it's an old-time original way of entertainment."

Still, Lower is unsure as to whether or not Lake Theater will survive from the coronavirus pandemic, because many people are not as eager to spend money on old movies.

Then, there is another small dilemma. "After months of people being told to "stay home" I can only imagine people wanting to get outdoors during Minnesota's nice summer weather," says Lower. "We almost need a rainy weekend for some good business," he jokes.

Despite uncertainty, Lake Theater is beyond happy they can get back to business and customers and movie-goers have expressed their joy to have the theater open again. Shrek and Back to the Future are other classic films we can expect to see playing at the theater this summer.


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