When digital projectors begin rolling at Decatur’s new Carmike 12 on Thursday night, the theater will be a technological wonder of the region and will rival its upscale competition, Monaco Pictures, in Huntsville.
That’s what a Carmike Cinemas official said of the state-of-the-art, 12-screen theater opening in Decatur Mall.
On Tuesday, The Daily got a preview of what moviegoers can expect Thursday night — Carmike’s modern prototype design, which it is building at its theaters, marketing director Terrell Mayton said.
“It’s all about giving our customers the ultimate moviegoing experience possible,” Mayton said. “We feel confident this theater is going to provide something to Decatur that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Sleek, silver wave-like panels and blue drop-down light fixtures hang overhead in the lobby. If entering from the mall, brightly lit concessions with digital menu boards dominate the right side of the lobby, while a “popcorn factory” refill station and automated Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machines with 140 flavors cover the left side. In the middle, high-top tables and chairs and cushioned bench seating are scattered throughout the lobby.
“Everything is designed to get people in and serve them quickly so they can go into the auditoriums and enjoy their movie,” Mayton said, referring to Carmike’s “fast-pass” ticket office. “We also want people to feel comfortable and relax in the lobby if they want, too.”
The jewel in Carmike 12’s crown is its BigD format auditorium. Mayton said it is Alabama’s first and among the largest in the region with 600 stadium seats and a 60-foot-wide, 3½-story-tall screen.
“You’re not going to see anything like this in Huntsville,” Mayton said. “The BigD format is what we’re rolling out in all our new theaters across the country. It can do 2-D and 3-D movies.
“It’s where you want to see the blockbuster, action/adventure film.”
The other 11 auditoriums, all with high-back chairs also arranged in stadium seating layout, are three sizes, he said. Altogether, the theater can seat about 2,400.
Patrons heading to their movie will walk past the theater’s “brain,” a blue-lit room with a large window exposing rows of equipment connected to cables coming down through metal tubes from the ceiling. Each “tower” controls an auditorium — from beginning the trailers, dimming the lights, turning on the projector and starting the sound system, Mayton said. One to two people will operate it, he said.
“We don’t want to hide the heart of the operation away,” Mayton said of the control room. “We want our guests to see that they’re getting the most advanced technological presentation available.”
In recent years, many residents have bypassed Decatur’s now-defunct theaters — Regal Cinemas, which closed in December, and Carmike 8, which closed Tuesday — for more sophisticated options in Huntsville.
Chamber of Commerce officials have said the upscale 14-screen, 2,774-seat Monaco Pictures at Bridge Street Town Centre off Old Madison Pike draws many moviegoers across the Tennessee River. Carmike recently acquired another popular Huntsville theater, Rave Motion Pictures, now called Valley Bend 18, on Four Mile Post Road.
At Monaco, patrons ages 21 and older can pay extra to watch a film on the second-level Prive area, where there is reserved seating, upscale concessions, a lounge and wine-tasting bar. Those in the Prive section can buy alcoholic beverages.
While Carmike plans to serve beer and wine at today’s VIP grand opening ceremony, alcoholic beverages will not be part of Carmike 12’s concessions, Decatur Mall manager Kathy Hammond said.
Mayton said the new Carmike will employ 40 to 50 people, including some part-time help, with the entire Carmike 8 staff coming over, including longtime manager Bruce DeClermont.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached at 256-340-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: Decatur Mall, 1801 Beltline Road S.W.
Ticket prices: Adults $9; Children 3-11 $7.50; Seniors 65 and older $8; Bargain matinee $7; Super bargain matinee (show times from 4-5:30 p.m.) $5.50; Midnight shows $10; 3-D show add $3; BigD show add $2 and 3-D/BigD show add $5.
Discounts: “Stimulus Tuesday” $2 popcorn, candy and drinks. Popcorn buckets bought at Carmike 8 can be used at the new theater.
For more information, call theater at 256-260-1360 or go to www.carmike.com
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