Phoenix Theatres’ humble beginnings took root in the late summer of 2000, and in the two decades since they have risen above more than their fair share of difficult challenges that are typical to a small business. However, none of these problems have been as serious as the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
“This challenge was completely unexpected, and affects literally everyone in the world,” explained Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theatres. “We have faith in the human need to interact with one another and the art we present at the movies. It is unique to our American experience, as movies are one of our greatest cultural contributions to the world. Our business is both local and very social by nature and uniquely disadvantaged in a pandemic crisis.”
The movie industry is not only closed at your local theatre, but all production has stopped on new feature films as well. The film studios have responded by literally rescheduling all films beginning later this summer and in some cases 2021. As the film industry grapples with these unprecedented problems, Phoenix Theatres decided to proactively shift their focus to offer solutions that could make a difference.
“Our management group has spent the past few months working on developing a comprehensive plan with CDC guidance to carefully re-open our theatres,” Jacobson said. “We are hopeful that all of our locations will be able to open by July 1st to support the return of Hollywood’s summer blockbuster movies to the big screen.”
Phoenix Theatres was founded in Southeast Michigan 20 years ago, and 2 years ago opened a location in Dubuque, Iowa — where on May 22nd Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds made the announcement that movie theatres could reopen with restrictions. Phoenix Theatres however, decided to wait and utilize this time instead to train local management and employees on their new protocols and make upgrades to their ticketing system that will allow the computer to automatically practice social distancing inside each auditorium by implementing reserved seating.
“Prior to our re-opening, we will be traveling to our theatre locations in Iowa, Massachusetts, and Michigan with our small specialized training group to individually work with every employee in the company,” said Sheena Hohman, Director of Employee Training and Development. “This will ensure a complete understanding of the importance of following our newly established guidelines for operations. By providing our employees with the tools and training necessary we can establish a safe movie-going environment for both our employees and guests.”
Phoenix Theatres plans to incorporate both CDC and our local government standards on how a theatre should safely operate. Working closely with the National Association of Theatre Owners and with the help of theatre management and employees, new safety protocols have been established for every aspect of the theatre:
• There will be social distancing guidelines in all the common areas and most importantly in the theatre auditoriums. The seating layout will automatically be configured within the reserved seating computer software, so that customers will not be within six feet of other guests not in their family group.
• Each employee will wear masks and other protective equipment.
• Transactions will be streamlined at the ticketing and concession stand to further minimize touch points.
• In between each showing, a food grade disinfectant spray will be used on all seats that removes 99.99% of all viruses on surfaces within 30 seconds.
• This disinfectant spray will also be used on high touch points throughout the building including the restrooms and concession areas.
• Hand sanitizer stations will also be provided for customer use throughout the theatre.
Detailed Video Re-Opening Plan:
“In order to help easily demonstrate these new policies, we developed a video to help illustrate what you can expect to see during your next trip to the movies,” said Tearis Reid, Vice President of Operations. “The cinema has always been a way for people to escape reality for a few hours. It is our job now more than ever to provide this experience to our guests while keeping them safe.”
To view Phoenix Theatres re-opening video plan and a complete listing of safety protocols, please visit the web site in advance at: www.phoenixmovies.net/covid
In the past several weeks, the movie industry has received some very hopeful news with Solstice Studios announcing a July 1st opening for their new Russell Crowe film “Unhinged,” with Warner Brothers following with their new Christopher Nolan film “Tenet” on July 17th and Walt Disney Studios opening their long awaited “Mulan” on July 24th.
New Online Store:
The past few months have also been a time of great creativity and several very technically talented employees have worked together to develop a new Phoenix Theatres Store on the website that for the first time will allow customers to purchase gift cards on line (in increments of $25, $50, $100) and are available by visiting on the web at Phoenix-movies.net. As this is the only area of the business that will be open for many weeks, Phoenix Theatres would certainly appreciate your support. The gift cards can be used for any film and concession items once the theatres reopen for business.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the movie industry in ways that are visible to us. However, theatre owners all over the country remain hopeful.
Just like in the past, with a determined effort we will prevail, again,” Jacobson said. “It is our sincere hope that our society can safely return to a normal routine of enjoying our lives and love of movies. The experience of living through this crisis has certainly been very humbling for all of us. I want to personally thank many of you that have called us and took the time to send us letters of support. These little niceties are just a little more appreciated than ever and proves to us that it’s incredible customers who have supported us the last 20 years.”