For months, the pandemic forced cinema fans throughout Thurston County to watch films at home but their hunger for even a small taste of the theater experience didn’t go away. Yelm Cinemas stepped into the breach, providing curbside pickup of its beloved movie popcorn. Customers responded with a lineup of cars that stretched out for several blocks. Clearly, the snack was fulfilling a need.
Now those same fans can leave their cars in the parking lot and enjoy unlimited refills on both popcorn and drinks while once again watching new movies (and some classics) at the theater, which will re-open on February 11. Whether you prefer kids’ size or adult size portions, refills cost nothing.
Safety protocols are in place, according to General Manager Noah Aden. “Our soda and popcorn machines are six feet apart so there aren’t a bunch of people crowding them at one time,” he says. “We sanitize the buttons with disinfectant and it’s going really well.”
Part of what makes the popcorn so popular is how it’s made, with real butter and coconut oil. “A lot of theaters use processed or fake butter,” says Aden, “because it’s cheaper for them to get, but we use real ingredients and that’s why it tastes so good.”
Yelm Cinemas was one of the first theaters in the region to re-open in June, showing classic films and popular favorites but that approach proved unsustainable and they had to shut down again for a period to regroup.
The curbside popcorn events allowed cinema staff to stay connected to the community while providing locals with an opportunity to get out of the house. “It was a huge hit,” says Aden. “It was something fun to do for the community, and that was our goal. We backed up the roads a few times and I’m sure some people weren’t too happy about that, but everyone who came through had a fun time and we were glad to do it.”
Learn more and book tickets in advance at the Yelm Cinemas website.