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Waynesboro’s Zeus Theaters recovering as people come back to the movies

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 8:33 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - It’s been almost a year since Zeus Digital Theaters in Waynesboro reopened after being forced to shut down during the height of the pandemic. But, the owner says people are still asking when they’re going to reopen.

Owner Brett Hayes planned on a pandemic. “Five, six years ago I had looked at what my major threats were and pandemic was at the top,” said Hayes. He figured that would be in the form of a really bad flu year.

“I never envisioned the government-ordered shutdowns and telling everybody to stay home, don’t come out,” stated Hayes.

He’d built up enough cash to get through six months of no revenue. Now, 15 months later, the theater is still only about 50% of its 2019 normal. “It’s been a tough year. Absolutely devastating,” said Hayes. “But, we’re still here.”

At the start of COVID-19, the big screen was completely black for two months, then came private shows for just 10 people in a theater that seats 1,300. Add to that showing old movies because new films weren’t being released.

“Jaws was our best hit from last year. By far,” said Hayes.

With no federal or state support, Hayes cut everything to the bone and took a loan against some other property he owned. “Just like on Monopoly, you flip the card upside down and you take the cash back from it,” said Hayes.

But despite losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hayes is hopeful and grateful.

“There’s a lot of folks that have suffered a lot worse than we have,” said Hayes. “And, you know people have lost their health. They’ve lost loved ones. They’ve lost their livelihoods. It’s been a very disruptive year for everybody.”

Hayes says he appreciates every person that walks through the door, and he’s hopeful there will be even more movie-goers with some big titles coming out soon like F-9, The Forever Purge, The Boss Baby 2, and Black Widow.

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