Megaplex Theatres (photo credit: Larry H. Miller Group of Companies)

Without as many new releases to show during this time of COVID-19, some movie theaters have begun showing films that have been released in the past. One theater company that has done so is Megaplex Theatres.

Two weekends ago, Megaplex had the top-grossing multiplex in the United States in the District in South Jordan, Utah ($14,6K) by 30.4 percent, according to Deadline.

Blake Andersen, president of the Utah-based company, told That Hashtag Show that the films that are doing best for Megaplex are Jurassic Park, Goonies and Jaws. (Jurassic Park was also the top performer in the U.S. at the box office two weekends ago.)

Andersen’s theory as to why people are going to films like that is because that folks want to escape after having “been through so much.”

We like that escape and we want to see the good guys win

Blake Andersen

Andersen said “It’s really not about making money at this point” for the theaters.

“It does provide jobs for people and it provides an escape for our guests, and we really appreciate the support,” Andersen said.

Andersen was asked that when Megaplex could choose any film to run, why it has chosen the ones it has.

Andersen first pointed out not all films are available – and some are locked in a “vault.” Andersen mentioned Disney and Fox products in particular.

He specifically mentioned Disney’s strategy to allow a limited number of releases for a week before the films go back into a vault again.

“The other studios are more liberal,” Andersen said.

Megaplex looks at what appeals most to the folks in the markets where Megaplex has theaters, Andersen said.

Voyagers; Collin Farrell; Tye Sheridan
Fionn Whitehead appears in Dunkirk. (Image: Warner Bros.)

Some ‘one-offs’ like 50 First Dates, Mean Girls and Dunkirk have done surprisingly well.

And with those films, Megaplex has deals with studios where they can “cut” the films or “drop them back” in how often the theaters show the films.

Megaplex has “no obligation to play them for a certain amount of time, so it’s all based on guest demand right now, which is kinda cool,” Andersen said.

That’s a departure from “regular times,” Andersen said, where Megaplex has certain obligations to studios for running films.

Megaplex’s current strategy is to open up on “a very limited basis” in order to comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provide an environment that is “as safe as your own living room.” Megaplex also wanted to give an opportunity for folks to “come back to the movies, to be able to have an escape, to be able to be with their loved ones.”

Andersen also pointed out that some of the classics the theater shows are remastered, mentioning their “good picture and sound.”

Megaplex wanted to show previously released films as soon as it felt it “had a system in place, both from the technological standpoint and a physical standpoint where we could keep people safe.” The theater has software that allows folks to choose a seat and have a six-foot radius. Folks can order tickets online – they don’t even need to talk to anyone.

“(You can) go into your seat and sit down,” Andersen said.

“We wanted to give our team ample time to train,” Andersen said saying that they sanitize the theaters between shows. “So we wanted to put the proper training in place.”

Some films are showing at Megaplex just once per day, like films that are near the end of their run in theaters. That’s because the theater management wants to give enough time to “air out, sanitize and clean the theaters properly,” Andersen said, mentioning that there are hour or longer gaps between when films show.

Megaplex doesn’t want to expose anyone, including its team members, to things to which they don’t want to be exposed, Andersen said.

“And then, of course, it’s supply and demand as well,” Andersen said. “From a business perspective and a safety perspective, it makes sense.”

Other films Megaplex has shown have included Batman Begins, Gladiator, Mamma Mia!, the original Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman and Labyrinth.