MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The second-largest movie theater chain in the country is closing all its theaters until further notice.
The decision by Regal Cinemas' underscores the struggle of theaters due to COVID-19.
Memphis-based Malco Theaters are screening movies, trying its best to keep the doors open.
While big theater chains operate hundreds of locations, Malco has 34 theaters in six states. The company said its smaller size is a saving grace during these times.
“Because of our size versus some of the bigger exhibitors out there, we are very nimble. We can pivot easily, and that’s exactly what we’ve been working on doing,” said Malco spokesperson Karen Melton.
One example of that pivot is moving and replacing movies as studios delay them into 2021. Already, we’ve seen heavily anticipated movies such as “Dune” and the James Bond movie, “Not Time To Die.”
Malco is also watching staffing theater by theater and watching local COVID-19 numbers and trends. They’ve found a desire from people to see movies with a group they know and with whom they feel comfortable.
One innovative program Malco is offering is called ‘Malco Select’ and allows customers to pay one fee and have a theater to themselves or a maximum of twenty guests. Theaters sold out the first week it was offered. Tuesday. Malco announced more of its theaters will offer the program.
Malco is even offering a pick-up popcorn service for customers who want to stay home but want that theater popcorn goodness. Basically, they’re doing what it takes to survive.
In the end, the chain emphasizes cleaning protocols, discount movies, its drive-in theater and the fact it has survived many other trying times. They’re planning to do it again, one movie, one popcorn and one safely shared experience at a time.
“We’re 105 years old. We survived the Spanish Flu, so we are determined to get through this,” said Melton.
One question Malco gets frequently is about masks while watching a movie. If you’re sitting down and eating or drinking you, can take your mask off, otherwise you must wear a mask while in the theater.
© 2020 Cox Media Group