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'Come on Starlite, Let's Go Party': 'Barbie' movie provides boost to local theaters

starlite drive in
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 20, 2023

MONROE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The highly anticipated "Barbie" film hits theaters Thursday night, and the weekend is expected to be big for local movie theaters.

It's no secret theaters have faced many challenges in recent years, but with big movies like "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" hitting theaters, they're getting a much-needed boost.

"It’s great for business. We really haven't had a lot of business this year,” said Starlite Drive-In manager Anthony Smith.

Smith said that unlike many traditional movie theaters, Starlite’s business actually did well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since they are a drive-in, they were one of the few theaters that were able to remain open. However, since things have opened back up, Smith said business has been slow.

But thanks to the "Barbie" premiere, Starlite is expected to be packed through the weekend.

The drive-in can hold up to 600 cars. They're anticipating a sellout Friday and Saturday for their double feature. They’ll start with a showing of "Barbie" followed by "Legally Blonde."

"They buy the concession food and that's really what keeps us in business,” said assistant manager Alli Stolz. "So we really have to do these special things to get people here."

The business comes at a much-needed time. Hollywood’s writers and actors strike has local theaters like Starlite bracing for yet another obstacle.

"It's a huge concern. With the actors strike in LA and across the country, we're not gonna have the big movies like we had the last couple of years," Stolz said. "Them doing that, it's for their stand but it's also really hurting our business in the coming years."

But as for this weekend…

"Oh, we're gonna be busy," Stolz said. "Get here early is all I have to say."

With potential weather on the way Thursday evening, Smith said the movie will still play even if it rains. He added they are hopeful any storms will pass before the movie starts at 9:15 p.m.

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