Rexburg drive-in battles COVID-19 challenges to bring people a much-needed diversion
REXBURG – After weeks of stay-at-home and other measures intended to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many east Idahoans are looking for some sense of normality or balance in their lives. The ownership and staff of the Teton Vu Drive-In in Rexburg are facing numerous challenges presented by the pandemic to provide local residents just a bit of the balance they might be seeking.
The Teton Vu opened for the season on April 10 and is screening movies Monday through Saturday. Brenden Andrews, president of Paramount Twin, Inc., the company that operates both the Teton Vu and the Paramount 5 discount theater, tells EastIdahoNews.com that running the drive-in during the COVID-19 crisis means overcoming a number of substantial challenges.
“We usually open about mid-March or as soon as the snow has melted enough that we can open,” Andrews says. “We were planning on March 27 to get open with ‘Mulan’ but since all the studios started pushing their movies back in their release time, it kind of cleared a lot them out of the way.”
“We decided to open because we did some research on the state’s website and found that drive-ins could open if they instituted some social distancing protocols,” he added.
Andrews said the lack of newly-released movies is one huge hurdle they had to clear in order to run the drive-in.
“The main challenge at the drive-in is the fact that we’re affected by the long-term from the studios and when they’re ready to release movies again,” he says. “We targeted April 10 due to ‘Trolls: World Tour’ being the only movie that went out to theaters and to homes.”
After the “Trolls: World Tour” run is over, Andrews says the Teton Vu will begin screening movies that have previously been in theaters.
“We’re going to have to move to movies that were out prior to all this, that we didn’t get to bring in yet,” he says. “Until mid-June, we’re probably going to be looking at digging up some classics, like ‘Top Gun’ or “Indiana Jones.’”
Another issue challenging the Teton Vu has been staffing, not only holding onto their staff, but also keeping them safe.
“We’ve lost a lot of management and people trained in other areas, like projection,” says Andrews. “We’re trying to keep enough of our staff so that when we can fully open, we’re not starting 100% from the bottom.”
On top of all this, the drive-in has guidelines set forth by the government and the Centers for Disease Control to comply with. Such protocols mean that customers must stay in their vehicles and park six feet apart. Tickets are only available at the Teton Vu website, with no tickets available on-site. The drive-in has also stepped up efforts to keep the venue clean.
“We’ve followed the recommendations of the CDC,” Andrews says. “We want to make sure our employees are safe and other people are safe. We always keep up good cleaning standards. We take the public health situation seriously and are taking added measures.”
Andrews says that the balancing act involved in operating the drive-in, adhering to social distancing and other COVID-19-related guidelines and keeping both their employees and customers safe is difficult to keep up. In the end, though, he says it’s important to try to give people a sense of normalcy and distraction from what’s going on in the world right now.
“It’s important to get some sustainability back in our lives, and some balance,” he says. “The drive-in can offer it a little faster, I feel right now, than any other form of entertainment outside of the home.”
The Teton Vu Drive-In is screening “Trolls: World Tour” and “The Call of the Wild” Monday through Saturday through the next week. Visit their website or Facebook page for information on what’s playing, how to get tickets and the social distancing guidelines being followed.