Special to the Review
The Athens Review
For movie-starved lake residents, the wait is about to be over. Hometown Cinemas of Gun Barrel City will open its doors on Thursday, May 1, with three screens showing “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and a line-up of additional movies currently being finalized.
Theatre owner Randy Hester says he’s been absolutely thrilled with the reception he’s received from the community, and he’s excited to show off the new-and-improved theatre.
“The Cedar Creek Lake area has welcomed us with open arms. And in return, we plan to deliver the highest-quality movie experience around, with Sony 4K Digital Cinema equipment that is only available in cities like Dallas, Austin and Houston. This is a big deal for a small-town theatre,” Hester said.
Hester says three screens are already outfitted with the state-of-the-art equipment, and the other five will be ready within 30 days. Seven of the eight screens will be showing movies on opening day.
“We didn’t want to wait, and we wanted to be open for Spider-Man, because it’s going to be a great movie. Final touches on the eighth screen are being completed, and the additional equipment is currently in Japan being assembled. But as soon as it’s ready, it will be delivered and installed, and all eight theatres will have the best-quality projection and sound available today,” he said.
The Hometown Cinemas team has worked quickly to get the theatre cleaned, repaired, upgraded and ready to go. In addition to a new roof, the snack bar area has been expanded, and will offer hot dogs, pretzels and nachos, in addition to the typical movie fare. The box office has been reconfigured to allow every cash register to sell movie tickets.
“We’ll have two dedicated registers for those who just want movie tickets. But if you want popcorn and snacks, you can get in line for those, and buy your tickets at the same time. This will improve the flow of traffic inside the lobby area, and should cut down on wait times for our patrons,” Hester says.
The parking lot at the theatre has also been repaired. New digital signage above the doors of the theatre will make it easy for residents to drive by, and see what’s playing.
Movie information will also be available online on the theatre’s website at www.hometowncinemas.com, on Facebook or by calling 903-713-0104.
Ticket prices at the theatre will be $7 for adults and $5 for children and seniors. On Tuesdays, all shows and all seats will be just $4, and the first matinee showing of each movie Monday through Friday will also be just $4.
Mary Valentin, formerly the manager of Main Place Cinema in Seven Points, is returning to the area as the new manager. She’s been the manager of the Hometown Cinemas in Terrell ever since the Seven Points theatre closed.
“Mary is my hero. She’s the reason why there’s no place like Hometown,” Hester says, adding that she has hired and is training 21 employees to work for her.
Hester says his experience working with officials at both the City and the Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation was a pleasure.
“During my 13 years with Cinemark, I worked with city governments all over the country, and this was one of the smoothest, easiest and fairest groups of people I have ever worked with. They stayed in constant communication, and were very clear about the process. They were up-front about what they would and would not do, and it was a pleasure, compared to some places I’ve been,” Hester says.
Linda Rankin, President of the Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation, says she’s excited about the theater, and the jobs it has created for local youth and residents.
“This theater meets the dual needs for our community of job creation and entertainment, but we’re also thrilled with the opportunity this presents us for attracting new restaurant and retail business into that part of town,” she said.
The GBCEDC assisted the movie theater with a $100,000 investment to help cover the significant costs of renovation, particularly the new roof and new digital equipment.
“Residents were very clear when we surveyed them last fall that they wanted that movie theater back. So, we were involved in marketing it, working with the bank and dealing with multiple potential buyers. We couldn’t be more pleased that Hometown Cinemas was the eventual buyer, and we’re very impressed with how quickly they’ve taken care of issues to get the doors open,” Rankin says.
Tickets for movies for the May 1 Grand Opening are available online at www.hometowncinemas.com beginning April 25 at 5 p.m. The box office will open at 6 p.m. on May 1, with the first showing of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” beginning at 7 p.m., and additional showings at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., 10 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Hometown Cinemas will be open seven days a week. For more information, visit www.hometowncinemas.com