Last updated on November 24th, 2021 at 02:19 pm
Marcus Theatres is pushing to bring back a segment of its customer base with a new vaccine requirement for some shows at six locations, including two in the Milwaukee area.
Fully vaccinated moviegoers now have the option to see select new releases in a vaccination-required auditorium. The initiative launched Friday at Marcus Ridge Cinema in New Berlin and North Shore Cinema in Mequon; Marcus Addison and Gurnee Cinemas in Illinois; Marcus Omaha Cinema in Nebraska; and Marcus Ronnies Cinema in Missouri.
Over the next couple of weeks, there will be two vaccinated-only showings per day for ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife,’ ‘King Richard,’ and ‘House of Gucci,’ in addition to regular showtimes. Ticket holders for “vax-required” shows are asked to present a copy of their vaccination card.
The pilot offering comes in response to feedback that a vaccine requirement would help some customers feel better about returning to the movies.
“There’s a bunch of people who are still uncomfortable, and they need another layer of protection, and we want to be able to give that option to people who want it,” said Marcus Corp. CEO Greg Marcus in an interview with BizTimes Milwaukee.
Just how high the demand is for vax-required showtimes has yet to be determined, but depending on the response, the company would consider expanding the option across its footprint, said Marcus.
But that doesn’t mean Marcus Theatres would implement a vaccine requirement for all showtimes.
“If the government mandates it, I can’t do anything about it, but that’s not our game plan here,” said Marcus. “This is to provide choice for people who want that environment.”
He noted that it’s not the first time Marcus Theatres has offered special accommodations for customers. Open-caption screenings and assisted listening devices are available for people with hearing loss, and its Reel Movies for Reel Needs program presents movies in lower volume and with brighter auditorium lighting for children with sensory sensitivities. Its Marcus Private Cinema program, which launched in response to the pandemic, remains available for groups looking to gather and watch a movie in a controlled environment.
Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. recently recorded its first period of positive net earnings since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing increased vaccination rates and rising consumer confidence.
Theater concessions revenues jumped 55% over last quarter, and average concession and food and beverage revenue per person increased by 24% compared to the first three quarters of 2019. Both August and September produced admission revenues that were 60% or more compared to 2019.