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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas in the News   » Grand Forks, ND - No More Monopoly

   
Author Topic: Grand Forks, ND - No More Monopoly
The Evil Sam Graham
Member

Posts: 85
From: Des Moines, IA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted January 15, 2005 11:57 PM      Profile for The Evil Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email The Evil Sam Graham         Edit/Delete Post 
SOURCE: Grand Forks Herald, 11-Jan-2005

quote:
MOVIE THEATERS: Monopoly no more

Columbia Mall unveils plans for 12-screen Wallace Theater

By Lisa Davis

Herald Staff Writer

If all plans go as announced, Grand Forks will have 34 movie screens by the end of this year.

GK Development, owner of Columbia Mall, announced Monday that Wallace Theaters will build a 12-screen theater with stadium seats in the space formerly occupied by Target.

Garo Kholamian, president of GK Development, said the deal is part of the company's ongoing efforts to "re-tenant" the mall.

He said the entertainment a movie theater provides is just one more reason for customers to come to the mall.

Kholamian said GK Development also hopes to add more "anchor-type" stores in the 84,000 square feet of space that won't be occupied by the theater. The theater will occupy 36,000 square feet.

Construction of the new cinema, to be called The Hollywood Theater at Columbia Mall, is expected to begin in the first quarter with a grand opening by the end of the year.

The theater will feature stadium seating, digital surround sound, wall-to-wall screen presentations and high-back theater seats.

The news comes on the heels of GK Development's announcement that it is spending $2.5 million to create a food court, renovate restrooms and add a family restroom. Construction of the food court is expected to begin in February.

Theater-friendly

The 12-screen complex is the latest in a wave of announcements regarding Grand Forks movie theaters.

Carmike Cinema announced plans to retrofit six of its Carmike 10 theaters with more plush, high-back stadium seats in November. At the same time, the company said it planned to convert its Columbia 4 complex near the Columbia Mall into a discount theater house, which likely would feature films that soon will be released on home DVD or video at reduced prices.

In the same month, Canad Inn announced it had chosen Carmike to operate a planned eight-screen theater in its Alerus Center entertainment complex. That theater will have 1,642 seats.

Judy Russell, director of investor and public relations for Georgia-based Carmike, said the announcement by Wallace Theaters does not change their plans.

The Carmike 10 renovation is expected to be complete by November, and the theater is expected to remain open during the renovations. Construction of the Alerus Center theater complex is scheduled to begin next month and be completed sometime during the summer.

What's it mean?

While Russell said she doesn't anticipate the price of admission at the local Carmike theaters to change, with the exception of lower prices at the discount theater, she said the higher number of screens in Grand Forks could bring in a larger variety of movies.

Kholamian said the announcement of so many theaters being built in a short amount of time is simply an indication that there is a demand that is not being met.

Local independent filmmaker and UND film lecturer Christopher P. Jacobs speculated that lesser-known movies would be brought to Grand Forks with the higher number of screens.

"Grand Forks is a smaller market, so it's not a high priority on a distributor's list," he said. "When they do play here, they don't do well, but with extra screens, it may be easier to fill."

But he pointed out that if an audience doesn't know what the movie is about, which is often the case with lower-budget films, people still aren't going to go to see it.

So, it's up to individual theater managers and the companies running them to promote the movies they book.

He said it takes time to build the kind of audience that appreciates the lesser-known movies.

And if those movies aren't brought to Grand Forks right away with the new theaters, he said it still is a hopeful sign that companies think there is a market for movies in Grand Forks.

"If they're booked properly and promoted well, I think it can work," he said.


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Brad Light
New Member

Posts: 7
From: Carlsbad, NM
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted February 09, 2005 05:54 PM      Profile for Brad Light   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Light         Edit/Delete Post 
I just looked at the population of Grand Forks, 52,000. I wouldn't think 10 screens would work there, much less three time that! I believe old theatres are going bye bye there.

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The Evil Sam Graham
Member

Posts: 85
From: Des Moines, IA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted February 10, 2005 02:52 PM      Profile for The Evil Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email The Evil Sam Graham         Edit/Delete Post 
You have to understand the marketplace. Aside from the city population, there's 12,000 college students and some air force base personnel, not to mention the population of bordering East Grand Forks, MN (pop 8658). It's a young population with a long history of supporting their theatres. Grand Forks is also a weekend shopping destination for Manitobans, who can shop much cheaper south of the border.

I lived in Grand Forks in the 1980's. We had ten first-run screens THEN, and two discount screens, all run by Midcontinent (which was purchased by Carmike). There were two twins, the Columbia Mall 4, the Empire downtown, and the fabulous Cinema International (and a dollar twin in East Grand Forks). Some claimed we had more screens per capita than any city in the United States. (They DID close the Empire...for a month...but when they suddenly lost the lease on the twin dollar house in East Grand Forks, the Empire was reopened as a second-run.)

The theatre known as "Carmike 10" was built as "Midco 10" around 1990, replacing all that remained open except the Columbia Mall 4. One of the remaining twins was used as a dollar house for awhile. Nothing new has happened since. Carmike is only renovating the 10 because of the Alerus Center project, which contrary to the article, is NOT Carmike's project yet. Carmike made a statement that it was, but the people developing the Alerus project recently said they haven't approved anything with Carmike. Wallace's plans seemingly came out of nowhere.

Still, I agree that 30 first-run screens is absurd up there. I bet the Alerus project doesn't happen at all, and Wallace and Carmike end up battling it out.

[ February 10, 2005, 07:56 PM: Message edited by: The Evil Sam Graham ]

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