Marcus Theatres to reopen six locations next week as part of phased plan

Includes Marcus Ridge, BistroPlex

The BistroPlex in Greendale.

After being almost entirely shut down for the past three months due to COVID-19, Marcus Theatres has rolled out plans to reopen its 90 theater locations in phases.

That process beings Friday, June 19, with six theaters, including Marcus Ridge in New Berlin, BistroPlex at Southridge Mall in Greendale, Marcus Renaissance Cinema in Sturtevant, and Valley Grand Cinemas in Appleton. The other two are theaters located in Nebraska and Georgia. 

The initial six locations will have new health and safety protocols based on current local guidelines, and will help fine-tune the reopening process for the next phase, the company said in a news release Thursday.

Marcus will reopen additional theater locations in the coming weeks, in time for summer blockbusters based on when studios release new films, according to the release. 

With no new releases yet, Marcus is bringing back some of the movies that were popular when its theaters closed, including “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Bad Boys for Life,” “Jumanji: The Next Level,” and “The Invisible Man.” It also plans to show retro classic movies, and a “Harry Potter Series” that starts June 19. Until new movies are released, all tickets are $5. 

Theaters will reopen with limited operations, from late morning to early evening four days a week, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays. But Marcus expects to ultimately ramp back up to seven days.

“We know people are eager to return to theaters for movies on the big screen provided they feel confident that we’ve created a safe and comfortable environment – and that consumer confidence is very important to us,” said Rolando Rodriguez, chairman, president and CEO of Marcus Theatres. “The steps are in place, associates are trained, and we are now ready and excited to welcome guests back.”

Auditoriums will be at 50% capacity. Moviegoers will be seated in a checkerboard seating pattern, with a couple of empty seats between groups. Staggered showtimes will limit traffic in lobbies and common areas. There will be extra time in between shows for thorough cleaning.

Although food and beverage service will be back up and running, theaters with in-seat dining options, such as BistroPlex and Movie Tavern, initially will not have delivery to seats. Instead, food orders will be picked up in a designated area. Theater bars and lounges will also be open, but table service will be temporarily unavailable. 

Marcus Theatres’ Zaffiro’s Pizza restaurants will open with proper spacing between tables, a maximum of six guests per party, among other safety enhancements. 

During the shutdown, Marcus Theatres had rolled out curbside pickup and online ordering for concession favorites like popcorn and treats. Late last month, it opened a drive-in theater in the parking lot of Majestic Cinema in Brookfield and at two other locations. The company has additionally worked to improve its app and website to improve online orders. 

“And, now it’s time to reconnect with the community at the movies,” Rodriguez said.

Marcus has put a name to its safe reopening approach, ‘Movie STAR,’ which is an acronym for social distancing, thorough cleaning, app and website for low-contact ordering of tickets, food and concessions; and respecting other customers and employees by following those new protocols. 

It’s similar to the “CleanCare Pledge” at Marcus Hotels & Resorts, which includes the use of new technology for low-to-no contact transactions, social distancing measures, PPE for employees and guests, and enhanced cleaning protocols that “go beyond” industry standards and CDC guidelines, the company said.

In the past week, Marcus Hotels announced reopening dates and plans for the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and the Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, on June 15, as well as The Pfister, which opened on June 8.

Marcus Hotels’ has not yet announced a reopening date for its two other downtown Milwaukee properties, the Saint Kate Arts Hotel and the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

Milwaukee-based parent company Marcus Corp. has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus. The company reported a $22.2 million operating loss for the first quarter 2020, compared to operating income of $5 million last year.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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