Utah’s Megaplex Theatres closing indefinitely because of coronavirus

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) The Utah-based Megaplex Theatres chain — including the Megaplex Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City, pictured here — will close indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the chain announced Wednesday, March 18. 2020.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is providing readers free access to critical local stories about the coronavirus during this time of heightened concern. See more coverage here.

The only movies playing in the Salt Lake Valley will be in people’s homes, as the Utah-based Megaplex Theatres chain joined other movie houses in closing all locations indefinitely in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In our 20-year history, Megaplex Theatres has never experienced anything like this,” Blake Andersen, the theater chain’s president, said in a statement issued Wednesday, adding that no cases of COVID-19 have been found at any of the chain’s locations.

Megaplex operates 15 theaters in Utah, from Logan to St. George. The chain’s locations — particularly at Sandy’s Jordan Commons and South Jordan’s The District — frequently show up on lists of the highest-selling theaters in the country for blockbusters, particularly Disney and “Harry Potter” films.

Megaplex also owns a theater in Mesquite, Nev., which was closed as of Wednesday due to an emergency order from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Megaplex will continue to pay eligible full-time employees during the shutdown, the chain announced.

Megaplex is part of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, which has first-hand experience with coronavirus. LHM Group also owns the Utah Jazz and stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell currently are recovering from COVID-19 — which prompted the NBA to suspend the season, beginning a cascade of other closures and cancelations around the country.

Megaplex was the last theater chain in the Salt Lake Valley to announce its closure. The following have already said they were closing down indefinitely:

Cinemark Theaters, based in Plano, Texas, which owns 15 Utah locations, from Ogden to Spanish Fork.

AMC Theaters, the nation’s largest theater chain, based in Leawood, Kansas, which owns locations in Layton, West Jordan and Provo.

Regal Theaters, the nation’s second-largest theater chain, based in Knoxville, Tenn., which owns a 14-screen theater in Taylorsville.

• The nonprofit Salt Lake Film Society, which operates Salt Lake City’s two art-house theaters, the Broadway Centre Cinemas and the Tower Theatre.

Brewvies Cinema Pub, which has theaters in Salt Lake City and Ogden.

Metropolitan Theatres, which operates two Park City multiplexes, the Redstone 8 and the Holiday Village 4.

As theaters were closing because of the coronavirus outbreak, Hollywood studios were rescheduling the spring opening dates of major releases.

Paramount indefinitely delayed this week’s release of the thriller sequel “A Quiet Place: Part II,” and the April 3 opening of the comedy “The Lovebirds.” Disney has pushed back indefinitely the March 27 release of its live-action “Mulan,” the April 3 release of the Marvel-based “The New Mutants” and the May 1 opening of Marvel’s “Black Widow.” MGM moved the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” from April 10 to Nov. 25. Lionsgate is delaying the thriller “Antebellum” and the “Saw” reboot “Spiral” indefinitely. Sony moved the live-action/animated hybrid “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” from April 3 to Aug. 7.

Universal is making perhaps the boldest moves. Besides delaying “F9,” the latest in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, from May 22 to April 2021, it announced it would release its animated sequel “Trolls World Tour” to streaming platforms on the same day it is supposed to hit theaters, April 10. This Friday, Universal also will stream — for $19.99 a pop — three movies that opened in theaters in the last month: The horror thriller “The Invisible Man,” the humans-as-targets satire “The Hunt” and the Jane Austen adaptation “Emma.”