Phoenix Theatres’, the company that owns and operates the Beacon Cinema on North St in Pittsfield, took root in the late summer of 2000, and in the two decades since they faced 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. The small, midwest-based theatre group is hoping to reopen in time for their 20th Anniversary.

This challenge was completely unexpected and affects literally everyone in the world 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.

Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theatres

According to Phoenix Theatres, 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. 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.

Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theatres

Prior to their re-opening, management will travel to their theatre locations in Iowa and Michigan, as well at the Pittsfield cinema, with a small specialized training group to individually work with every employee in the company, according to Sheena Hohman, Director of Employee Training and Development. This is to ensure a complete understanding of the importance of following their newly established guidelines for operations. By providing their 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 our management and employees we have established new safety protocols for every aspect of the theatre. Their plan is below.

  • We will have social distancing guidelines in all the common areas and most importantly in the theatre auditoriums. The seating layout will automatically be configured within our 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.
  • We have streamlined transactions at the ticketing and concession stand to further minimize touch points.
  • In between each showing, we will use a food grade disinfectant spray on all seats that removes 99.99% of all viruses on surfaces within 30 seconds.
  • We will be using this disinfectant spray 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.

A video from Jacobson can be seen here.

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. 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.

Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theatres



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