How Minnesota movie theaters are adapting during the pandemic

Movie theaters in Minnesota are now allowed to open at 25% capacity, after being closed for almost three months.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found most theaters in the state have delayed reopening.

Locally-owned Mann Theatres plans to reopen its 12 theaters on June 26.

They are currently working on a number of changes and safety protocols. That includes putting up Plexiglass around concession booths and sticking 6-foot distance markers on the ground.

They are also opening a drive-in theater at their Champlin location, with a 17-foot by 40-foot screen installed on the side of the building Thursday.

"In the last month, we've been really working on creating a drive-in concept," said Michelle Mann, co-owner of Mann Theatres.

Mann said they can comfortably fit 125 cars in the area.

"We're taking every step possible to make you feel safe and comfortable and we will also adapt to what people's needs are," Mann explained. "It's going to offer those people that don't feel comfortable yet to come inside the building a place that's safe inside their car."

There are only a handful of drive-in theaters in Minnesota but they appear to be surging in popularity in the face of the ongoing pandemic. The Elko Drive-in Theater at Elko Speedway previously showed movies on Saturdays only. This season, they have expanded to showings on Thursdays and Fridays as well. For more information, click here.

Bars, restaurants, indoor entertainment venues and many other businesses reopen with restrictions

When it comes to the movie industry as a whole, things are still uncertain. There are no major releases scheduled until July at the earliest. That means theaters that open in Minnesota this month will play old favorites or independent films.

"Tenet, Unhinged and Mulan, those are three big pictures that are supposed to come out in July. We're hoping those are still slated to come out, but they anticipate waiting for California and New York to reopen. Those are two of their biggest markets so, as of now, those three pictures are solid, but you never know," Mann said.

Many Hollywood films also had to halt production during the pandemic.

"They announced they are going to start scheduling production in Los Angeles again but I don't know what that looks like and how much they have up their sleeve to release the rest of the year," Mann said.

AMC, the world's largest theater operator, lost more than $2 billion in the second quarter, struggling with the closure of all of its movie theaters amid the virus outbreak. Last week, the company said it may not survive the pandemic. It now expects to open almost all of its theaters worldwide in July.

But some theaters across the country are shuttering for good. The Oakdale 20, a New Visions theatre, posted on its Facebook page Tuesday: "The lease on the Oakdale 20 expired on April 30 and we made a business decision not to renew the lease. We are pleased to have served our guests for the past 20 years. We are honored to have provided the local community the latest films and cinema events and look forward to providing the best moviegoing experience at the Mounds View 15, located at 2430 County Highway 10."

Other theater groups, like Mann's, are hoping the current situation can present new opportunities, such as increased interest in their new drive-in theater. They hope to open it within the next week or two. For updates, click here.