‘Manning the popper’: Florence cinema sees crowd of moviegoers return on Christmas Day

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Many businesses close their doors for Christmas, but Julia Cinemas in Florence wasn’t one of them as crowds turned out Saturday for one of the busiest days of the year for movie theaters nationwide.

Julia Cinemas closed its doors in March 2020 because of COVID-19. But the theater is back open and seeing plenty of customers for the holidays. However, the road to recovery has not been easy.

“When we fully opened back up, it was really slow because no one felt comfortable sitting in the theater,” concessionaire Ebony Davis said.

Davis, who said she has worked at the theater for nearly three years, recalled how the theater worked around the lack of new movie releases during the pandemic, including operating as a drive-in and hosting marathons of classic movies.

“Now, with all the new movies coming out — especially “Spider-Man” but also all the movies before that — we got a lot of business back,” Davis said.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which continues to shatter box office records, has proved to be a major draw for the theater.

“Spider-Man has been crazy,” concessionaire Seth Crawford said. “I believe that is the first time we have sold out a movie in like two-and-a-half years.”

The Farmer family came all the way from Pamplico to see the new superhero movie.

“After the fun in the morning, after presents and all that, there is nothing left to do except sit around,” Rita Farmer said. “So why not come to the movies?”

The Farmers said coming to the theater on Christmas Day has been a family tradition for years, but Saturday was their first time back since the pandemic began. They said they looked forward to the popcorn above all else.

Staff members said they plan to work hard all evening to make sure the Farmers and other moviegoers have as smooth of an experience as possible.

“We always have someone manning the popper and someone on the drinks,” Crawford said. “We are getting it done.”

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