The coronavirus is like a Keanu Reeves movie; a chain reaction of things that keep besetting one industry after another. The closure of movie theaters — which is still ongoing in some parts of the country — doesn’t just impact those specific companies and their employees. It also affects the studios, who don’t have a place to screen their blockbusters. And it trickles down to the companies that provide those chains with the snacks that audiences crave — most importantly popcorn, that time-honored tradition of movie theaters dating back decades.

With no one going to movie theaters, that means no one is eating movie-theater popcorn — and that means movie-theater popcorn is not selling. The Washington Post reports that the corn companies that stock theaters are faced with enormous surpluses, like Nebraska’s Preferred Popcorn, which has built new equipment just to hold all the popcorn they can’t get rid of:

Based in Chapman, Neb., Preferred has installed seven new silos to hold excess product. They will hold 15,925,000 pounds of popcorn kernels, says Plucker, while doing some math. Each pound of kernels will produce about five 130-ounce tubs — those are the jumbo buckets beloved by moviegoers — so the excess kernels stored in these seven bins would provide roughly 80 million tubs of popcorn.

Companies like Preferred can’t just pivot to selling their stock to grocery stores, the Post says, because they “do not have machinery for microwave retail packaging,” or the contracts they would need. So they’ve got 80 million tubs worth of popcorn lying around instead. Now they’re working with new partners to find new ways to sell their product. Meanwhile, theaters in New York and many areas remain closed, with no opening date in sight. Hopefully the industry gets back on its feet soon, before all that popcorn goes bad.

Gallery — Why We Miss Movie Theaters During the Pandemic:

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