Industry NewsOpinion

Theater Owners: Biden Economy Is Crushing Us

Industry insiders weigh in on inflation, family movies and a looming recession

Hollywood went all-in on Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election. And they’ll do it again in 2024.

That decision may come back to haunt the industry. In many ways, it already has.

Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery took turns belt-tightening over the past two years. Disney is in the process of firing 7,000 workers following its hard economic news.

Studios that once embraced woke content are realizing they better start canceling clunkers, and fast. Think Disney+’s decision to ax both “Willow” and “National Treasure: Edge of History” after one season each.

Willow CANCELED After Super WOKE Season

Now, it’s theater owners’ turn to complain about the Biden economy. Except they don’t actually say the president’s name.

Variety reached out to multiple owners to get their take on the theatrical model, what’s working at this point in the culture and what they’d like to see change moving ahead.

Sean Gamble, CEO of Cinemark, weighs in on how Biden’s supply chain crisis, weakness on the world stage and flailing economy has impacted his business.

“Sixty percent of the canola oil that we use to pop our popcorn comes from Ukraine. So the war had a big effect on access to canola oil. When there were disruptions to the supply chain, we couldn’t get medium popcorn bags. We had to get creative. Everything seems to have gotten more expensive to make.”

Gabriel Saluan, VP and owner of Atlas Theaters, told Variety that a possible recession could negatively impact his business.

“We believe in a value-driven concession stand. You’ll get a lot for your money. Also at the box office, you need a decent price structure to allow it to be affordable.”

Shelli Taylor, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse, said the Biden inflation impacts “everything” in her business, “from wages to construction materials.”

“Because of the COVID shutdown, we didn’t know what was available. We’re famous for our pickle fries, and we couldn’t serve them for a year because we couldn’t get the right pickles.”

There’s a bright side to Biden’s bumbling, it appears.

Mark O’Meara, owner, of University Mall Theaters in Northern Virginia, suggests a recession could actually help theaters.

“Historically, it’s always good for us. When times are tough, people go to the movies. They want to escape. It’s that simple.”

The owners agreed that more family-friendly movies would boost their individual coffers and that “Top Gun: Maverick,” as Steven Spielberg told star Tom Cruise last year, helped save the theatrical model.


  1. The “movies are recession-proof” (or recession-resistant) saying comes from the 1930s when Hollywood did ok. Hollywood was mainly competing against live theater/concerts and radio for mass entertainment. Since then, TV (plus cable plus streaming), videogames, and many more entertainment categories have been invented. Movie theaters should be comparing their bang-for-buck vs cable and/or streaming, because I think they’ll be found wanting.

  2. Uhhhhh…maybe the fact that Biden’s buddies in Hollyweird can’t help making tons of WOKE trash not worth watching for free on HULU has something to do with it as well.

  3. I haven’t been to a movie theater since before COVID. That break made our family realize how much we’ve been spending for that kind of entertainment (between tickets and concessions, over $100 for a family of 4 per movie). With the savings from not going to a theater, we bought a movie-theater style popcorn machine, and we watch movies on our TV as soon as they come to one of the streaming services.

  4. Thanks for this comment about the movie theater concession stand…“We believe in a value-driven concession stand. You’ll get a lot for your money.” I needed a good laugh today and this was it! Sure you get a good bit of popcorn for $20! Such value!

  5. Someone should tell the theater owners that it’s all Putin’s fault.
    Speaking of Putin, those Russians do make some pretty cool sci-fi flicks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button