As the smell of popcorn wafted through the hallways more than moviegoers for months of 2020, state grants coming to the Cozy and Comet theaters will help with bills, as owner Dave Quincer said. The theaters received a total of $55,000 based on the three screens at the Cozy in Wadena and one screen at the Comet in Perham.

“It comes nowhere near to replacing the revenue we’ve lost … since March but it basically keeps the bills paid, which is all we’ve been doing for the last eight, nine months or whatever is just trying to keep the bills paid,” Quincer said.

The movie industry is also fighting against itself, as Quincer said, with the offerings of watching movies at home and paying for them there instead of at the theater.

The grant is one aspect of many Quincer is thankful for along with the great support from the counties, city administration and community members. The Comet and Cozy have had concession stand snacks in the evenings and weekends when the movie screens couldn’t be on. The theaters have been open since summer with limited capacity, and low attendance.

As part of a $216 million package in December 2020, the grants are now making their way to movie theaters and convention centers, with $8.54 million for theaters and $4.6 million for centers, according to a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development news release. Quincer received the grant agreement on Feb. 10 and hopes for funds in the next two weeks.

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The funds will go towards loans, insurance, taxes and payroll. Costs from digital projectors purchased 8-10 years ago continue, too. Theater employees were able to return in April with the help of a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $21,200.

Overall, Quincer said the grant allows the theaters to remain open and not have to borrow money.

“It’s certainly better than nothing,” Quincer said.