TUPELO • Malco reopened some of its theaters Monday, including the Tupelo Commons Grill, much to the delight of Tiffany and Brad Franks.
“We’ve been waiting for word when they would open,” said Tiffany Franks, who co-owns Crave in downtown Tupelo. “We were disappointed recently when we went to Atlanta, and we wanted to watch a movie, but nothing was open.”
They did have an opportunity to go to a drive-in theater, but it was a four-hour wait, so they passed.
On Monday, the Franks were one of a half dozen moviegoers who opted to catch one of the early shows at the theater.
They were there to see “The High Note,” as was Betty Crump of Aberdeen.
“I haven’t been to the movies since they closed in March,” she said.
Memphis-based Malco said last week it would reopen its 35 theaters through a phased approach, with openings happening every week though July 16.
The goal is for all the theaters to be operational in mid-July to coincide with the release of “Tenet,” the first blockbuster of the summer movie season.
The nation’s movie chains have all said they plan to be open by mid-July, with Cinemark opening some theaters by the end of this month.
As for Malco’s coronavirus guidelines, all employees will be wearing masks and gloves. Employees will be screened as they come to work, and they must wash their hands and change gloves every 30 minutes.
All surfaces and bathrooms are to be cleaned every 30 minutes, and each auditorium is cleaned between showings.
The chairs in the lobby have been removed and the water fountains closed. Concessions are still open, but the menu may be limited.
As far as seating inside the auditoriums, every other row will remain empty. With the reserved seat system, the computer will automatically block off the next two adjacent seats.
It is a critical time for movie theaters, as billions of dollars have been lost due to the shutdown caused by COVID-100. AMC, the nation’s largest theater chain with more than 660 locations, said it lost more than $2 billion the first quarter.