KENAI — A video of a moose walking into Kenai’s movie theater, and the subsequent shocked reaction of theater staff, has gone viral. As of Tuesday evening, the video had amassed more than 2.3 million views on TikTok, nearly 350,000 likes, and approaching 6,000 comments.
And those numbers keep climbing.
“The first night it didn’t blow up,” said Kenai Cinemas floor staff Brekkin Sproul, who posted the video. “It was 30k when I went to bed; I woke up and it was 700k … it’s just gone up like a thousand a minute.”
In the video, Jasmynne Palmer, another member of the theater’s staff, calls out to general manager Ricky Black as she watches the moose saunter into the building and munch on some popcorn.
“What do I do?” she asks. “There’s a… moose in here! Ricky! Ricky! Help!”
The video and its viral impact, Black said, was something he immediately knew was possible.
“I’m pretty sure we have all the ingredients,” he said. “Both [Sproul and Palmer] caught this whole scenario from start to finish.”
Black said that the day after the moose walked in, he encouraged the two to put their video footage together and make something “viral.”
“We had security footage for the news, but the viral video itself tells a whole story about how they were feeling — their emotions during the whole process.”
Palmer said that her encounter with the moose happened Wednesday, around 9 p.m., while she had been closing up.
Wednesdays at the Kenai Cinema are generally pretty quiet, she said. Black said that Wednesdays, for him, are inventory nights.
The front door was propped open because the lobby was hot, Palmer said, and the moose just walked on in.
“I saw him walking in and I was like, ‘ain’t no way,’” she said.
Palmer said she spent a beat frozen in surprise, but even before she called Black, she had her phone out recording.
Upstairs, Black was working on the staff schedule, and he said when he got the call from Palmer, who is also his niece, he thought she was messing with him. But he checked the lobby camera, and sure enough — there was a moose in his lobby.
“My first reaction, I’m just laughing,” he said. But he quickly made his way downstairs and peeked around the corner to see the moose.
“I’m scared. I’m not just gonna walk right up to the moose, tap them on the shoulder, and ask them to leave,” he said. “I just started slapping the wall and trying to make noise … I don’t know what to do.”
The moose was entirely disinterested in Black and Palmer, they said. It was looking for food. In the TikTok video, the moose can be seen walking right up to the counter, and then to a large trash can in the lobby.
Black said that looking back at the footage, he could see that the animal’s first stop was a small tray of popcorn left on the counter. Then it went for the trash, where it found a McDonald’s Happy Meal — which got stuck around its snout, but popped open so it could still eat through.
While Black and Palmer were trying to convince the moose to leave, Sproul had been out on a break. He said that he walked in the front door looking down at his phone, not even realizing the scene he was entering.
“I look up and it’s just the moose’s head,” he said. “We scared each other.”
The moose ultimately was ushered out the front door — the Happy Meal box still on its face.
“That was not the outcome that I would have wanted to see happen,” Black said. In the video, he can be heard considering an attempt to remove it. But, he said, he couldn’t put himself or his staff at that kind of risk.
Black said later that night he asked a police officer who came by about the box and was validated when the officer said they made the right call leaving it to fall off on its own.
Since the video was published, Sproul has gained around 1,300 followers, and he said he’s been approached by news outlets from around the country, as well as by other entertainment entities like FailArmy.
He called the attention “mind-boggling.”
Black said he was encouraging the two to make the most of their moment of fame.
“I was definitely suggesting to both of them, to take this experience and launch an Alaska blog or channel or something from it. It’s a reference point, it’s something on the portfolio.”
Sproul’s TikTok account, and the full video of the Kenai Cinemas moose encounter, can be found @brekkinsproul. For more information about the Kenai Cinemas, visit catheaters.com or “Kenai Cinemas” on Facebook.
• Contact reporter Jake Dye at email@example.com.