Summertime is usually the biggest time of the year for movies. The summer season is when Hollywood releases many its most crowd-pleasing, big budget flicks, but with theaters shuttered during the pandemic, new movies have not been getting released outside of video-on-demand. What is summer without summer blockbusters?
The Mars Theatre is responding to that dilemma by screening the original summer blockbuster hit, "Jaws".
"Usually during the summer we have our kids two-for-two movies, and then on the weekends we’re showing whatever the new releases are," explained Mars Theatre director Allison Newberry. "Since Hollywood is not releasing any new releases right now, we had to go into the vault and show older movies."
The Mars Theatre in Springfield is having a soft reopen this month by screening some of the most popular summer blockbusters of all time. So far they have screened "Jurassic Park" and "E.T.," with "Jaws" scheduled for June 26 and 27, and "Back to the Future" on the weekend of the Fourth of July.
"Logistics was just making sure that we were compliant with all the CDC requirements, making sure we had hand sanitizer stations, that my employees and staff were equipped with what they needed to keep themselves safe, and keep patrons safe," said Newberry.
Patrons are also required to sign self declarations and wavers to help with contact tracing. "That way, if someone came to the movies this past weekend and tested positive this week, they could let us know and then we could let people who were at the theatre this weekend know," said Newberry.
However, patrons are not required to wear masks.
"Some people are wearing them, some people aren’t, I guess what ever people feel comfortable doing," said Newberry.
Another change for the theater is a reduced capacity, but they have still seen good turnouts so far.
"It’s kind of what we expected," explained Newberry. "As far as the governor’s executive order, to start off with we were at 25% capacity, that was about 60 seats, in order to keep people social distancing. The most we had was 61 for ‘Jurassic Park.’ It’s been around the 50-60 mark, so that’s kept us under the requirement."
Before the soft reopen, The Mars Theatre was still serving moviegoers by offering curbside concessions, where people could pick up Coke, popcorn, and candy to take home for family movie nights.
"We’ve had a couple of patrons who have continued to do that since we reopened," said Newberry. "Even for movies, they’ve continued to pick up their popcorn and candy and take it home." You can’t beat real movie theater popcorn.
After the "Summer Blockbuster" series is finished, the Mars Theatre will screen "Trolls: World Tour" in July and hopefully begin screening new releases again like Disney’s live action remake of "Mulan" which is still tentatively slated for this summer.
For just $10, audiences can purchase a ticket, small popcorn and Coke. Tickets can be purchased online and the self declarations and wavers can be printed out and signed beforehand to save time.
"I think it’s been positive," said Newberry. "I think people are looking for things to do. We’re a small theatre, so I think people feel comfortable coming here as opposed to a big megaplex. The general consensus we’re seeing is that people are happy to have something open and somewhat back to normal, even though we have the new protocols."
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