Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

February 15, 2014

Hometown Cinema to open in GBC

Athens — Hometown Cinemas, LLC of Austin has announced it has completed the purchase of the former MovieStar Cinema in Gun Barrel City, has pulled permits from City Hall, and is beginning renovations to allow the business to open as the newest member of the Hometown Cinema chain. 

Randall L. Hester, managing partner, says his company plans to complete a thorough renovation of the 24,730 square foot facility, including the installation of new Sony Digital Cinema 4K™ projection equipment in all eight of the cinema’s theatres, along with RealD 3D Cinema in 3 or 4 of the auditoriums. 

“The closest theatres using 4K resolution projection technology are in Dallas, Austin or Houston, so the presentation will be tremendous.” said Hester.  

Additional plans include an expansion of the snack bar and reconfiguration of the lobby and box office area to improve traffic flow, as well as the addition of a party room for special events.

Hester has been in the theatre business for more than 25 years, including nearly two decades with Cinemark as Vice President of Marketing and Communications.  Hometown Cinemas was established in 2008 and the company owns and operates theatres in both Lockhart (near Austin) and Terrell (at the Tanger Outlet Mall).  Hester says his company is focused on purchasing and operating theatres in smaller communities in Texas.

“We were not the only company interested in this theatre, but we’re very excited with this acquisition because Gun Barrel City is exactly the kind of town we want to be in,” Hester says.

According to Linda Rankin, President of the Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation, “Our citizen survey made it really clear that our residents want this movie theatre, so we were excited to work with potential buyers.  We are thrilled that Hometown Cinema will be bringing their first rate operations to our community. This is very good news for the future economic development of this area,” Rankin said.

The Gun Barrel City Council will review an agreement between the City, the Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation and Hometown Cinemas in a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m., that provides financial incentives to the theatre company to subsidize qualified property renovations up to $100,000, as well as provide sales tax reimbursements to the theatre for meeting annual sales goals. 

The agreement to be reviewed stipulates that the theatre must receive an occupancy permit from the city and be open for business within 90 days, must employ a minimum of eight full time equivalent employees, must operate all eight screens in the theatre, and must meet a minimum annual sales amount and file the appropriate sales tax reports in order to receive reimbursement for sales tax paid. Sales tax benefits will continue for five years as long as all other terms of the agreement are met.

Hester says Hometown Cinemas is a community-oriented business that caters to residents by providing special events, private party space, and special “movie camps” and other activities during school breaks.  “We have some work to do to get the facility up to a standard that the community deserves.  We want everyone to agree when we say—‘There’s No Place Like Hometown,’”said Hester.

For more information on the company’s theatres in Lockhart and Terrell, visit


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