BAXTER -- Ever wanted a movie theater all to yourself? How about a personal screening for just friends or family?

The Lakes 12 Theatre is now offering private group showings for $99 and up of any first-run or classic movie playing Tuesdays and weekends at the Mann Theatres-owned location.

“Theater rentals have been going on for years and years and years … but not at this rate, though, never at this price before,” said Michelle Mann, co-owner of Mann Theatres. “We’re doing it just because we thought what a great way to give the public a way to get together.”

RELATED: Review: ‘Toy Story’ brings childhood playthings to life at Lakes 12

Mann Theatres’ other locations besides Baxter include Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Plymouth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Champlin, which are also offering personal movie screenings.

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“Everything’s been canceled — sporting events, parties, family get-togethers — and we thought what a great safe way for people to come together and have a good time together at an affordable price,” Mann said.

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, Nov. 10, announced a curfew for bars and restaurants along with other restrictions on social gatherings as the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed.

“I’m thankful to report we are not affected by Gov. Walz’s new restrictions,” Mann said.

The Lakes 12 Theatre lobby offers concession items for purchase such as fresh-popped buttery popcorn, candy and soda fountain beverages. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
The Lakes 12 Theatre lobby offers concession items for purchase such as fresh-popped buttery popcorn, candy and soda fountain beverages. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

The family movie theater chain’s Hopkins and two St. Paul locations are temporarily closed. But even so, Mann Theatres’ remaining locations have a combined total of 67 screens.

“We just are not having enough attendance to make economical sense to be open during those days,” Mann said of the Lakes 12 Theatre’s recent move away from daily showings.

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The Lakes 12 Theatre reopened in June when it was permitted to by the state, with eight of its 12 auditoriums offering showings of perennial crowd-pleasers to begin with, such as “Dirty Dancing.” It had closed its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have quite a few right now interested in Lakes 12, but we’ve had quite a few bookings at our other theaters already,” Mann said of the chain’s private movie screening offer.

Mann Theatres also completed its digital rollout with all of its locations, including the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter, featuring digital cinema with digital 3D at many of the chain’s locations. That along with the theater rental offer may entice more people to return to the cineplexes.

“It’s $99 for one to 20 people. Over 20 people, it’s $5 per person,” Mann said of theater booking rates. “Concessions are not included in that price. … And we’re only doing personal screenings on days we’re open specifically to Lakes 12 — Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.”

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Mann said those participants of a private booking of a Lakes 12 Theatre auditorium will not be required to sit 6 feet apart, unlike traditional moviegoers of a public viewing who are encouraged to do so if they did not arrive at the theater together or are not part of the same household.

“And we’re assuming the people that are coming together to have a personal screening of a movie are aware of all of the guidelines and precautions (related to COVID-19),” Mann said.

The auditoriums were upgraded to Mann Luxury Loungers with roomier seating that allow patrons to see films in recliners that raise their feet with the touch of an armrest button.

“The thought really behind it was to give people a way to come do something great and fun because so many places are closed, are limited in capacity, had been canceled due to COVID, and we thought what a fabulous way for people to have an amazing time together,” she said.

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Among the upcoming movies at the Lakes 12 Theatre that the chain is promoting via social media for private screenings are Disney’s “Toy Story,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Santa Clause” and “Frozen.”

“Those films in particular are date specific based on our film buyer negotiating with Disney. … Those titles were put out there specifically just because ‘family-friendly, Disney, over the holidays,’” Mann said.

For more information or to book an auditorium for a private movie screening at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter, email Abby at mannlakes12@gmail.com.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL.