It’s one thing to watch a movie at home, another thing entirely to see it on the big screen with full surround sound, reclining seats and a dozen of your closest friends. For anyone who wants to experience the latter, Yelm Cinemas is offering theater rentals with social distancing and safety protocols factored in.
For a $200 fee, groups can rent an auditorium for up to 25 people and watch any movie currently screening at the theater. They have the option of bringing in their own food or taking advantage of the discount on refillable popcorn and drinks, covered by the fee. Normally that combo costs $15.50 but for the rental audience, the cost is $10. For adult gatherings that include alcohol, renters need to purchase a $10 banquet permit from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board, a process that can be completed online.
“It’s a great option for birthdays and kids’ parties,” says General Manager Noah Aden. “It’s also helpful for groups of friends who love movies and want to be able to hang out and talk with each other during a film without disturbing other people.”
Since Yelm Cinemas began offering the service earlier this year, the response has been positive. “We’ve probably done 12 or 13 screenings since we started, and people seem to love it,” says Adens. “Mostly, we’ve had kids’ parties.” The popular Disney movie “Raya and the Last Dragon” accounted for approximately half of those screenings. “A Quiet Place 2” has also been popular.
In pre-COVID times, Yelm Cinemas has allowed businesses to rent theaters on off times (i.e. Sunday mornings or weeknights) for customer appreciation events or as a donation to support the annual Dollars for Scholars auction at Yelm High School. Now, the service is open to the entire community and more time slots are available.