by Travis Mateer
No, the title of this post is not a joke.
In this hilarious Missoulian article about the Roxy Theater needing to raise $100K due to “higher operating costs”, Russia is actually referenced as a contributing factor to the cost of their organic popcorn.
Here’s how the pesky problem of inflation is supposedly being made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (emphasis mine):
Inflation has played a role, too. Their organic popcorn has become more expensive to produce as oil and butter prices have increased, the former likely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“That safflower oil that we use is almost three times as much as it was a year and a half ago,” he said.
With those bad, bad Russians jacking up safflower oil, how is a local theater jonesing for CARES Act cash supposed to raise revenue?
If Mike Steinberg was running a private sector business, he’d have to deal with something called “reality”, but since The Roxy is a non-profit, Mike can just panhandle the Missoula community for $100K instead.
Here’s the opening of the article where that distinction is explicitly stated (emphasis mine):
Tickets stay the same price, but expenses have gone up for the Roxy Theater.
The nonprofit community cinema’s operating costs in its budget for fiscal year of 2022-23 have increased by $100,000. Drivers included the higher cost of goods and energy, plus paying competitive wages for their employees in Missoula, where the cost of housing has spiked.
“We also don’t want to pass the expense on to the paying customers, because we like keeping movies affordable, we like keeping our concessions affordable as part of our model,” said Mike Steinberg, Roxy executive director. Because it’s a nonprofit, the Roxy seeks community support for the $100,000 difference.
If this panhandling pisses you off, imagine making a documentary and having this “non-profit” screw you from the use of a theater.
Really though, how do private businesses feel about this?
After vaccinations became widely available in the summer of 2021, the Roxy reopened for public screenings. Prior to that, they rented out individual theaters for private parties so people could watch a movie with their chosen “pod.” They also screened films in the garden and Ogren Park with the Paddleheads.
The efforts were recognized with the 2022 Missoula Downtown Assocation’s award for Downtown Business of the Year, which cited its “extreme creativity in programming through the pandemic as well as its powerful return to in-person movies.”
I emphasized the word “business” in the above quote because, well, is it?
Without CARES Act money–and now a panhandling campaign–the Roxy wouldn’t be anything because it would have ceased to exist. Thankfully for Mike Steinberg, government intervention saved his “business”. I hope he remembers who butters his bread when it comes time to vote.
Thanks for reading!