A new Movies 10, whether a retrofit with an addition or razing the building and starting fresh, is planned in Baxter.
Moviegoers who have been waiting for a technology upgrade in the lakes area may have the answer by year’s end.
Mann Theaters purchased Movies 10 in Baxter from the new mall owners Alan Retkinski and Alex Schleider Schleider, of Westgate Mall Realty Group. Retkinski and Schleider recently purchased the mall for $6.8 million from DDR Corp.
Steve Mann, president of Mann Theatres, who is based in the Twin Cities, said Wednesday the company is working with an architect and contractor and expect to meet with Baxter city officials about plans in three to four weeks.
Mann said the plans are to convert the theater from showing 35 mm film to digital for better sound and picture quality. The conversion to digital, which is occurring across the Mann Theaters chain, means putting in new equipment. Movies 10 will also be changed to stadium seating and will provide 3-D screens, however they are not sure how many of the 12 screens would offer 3-D films.
If lakes area moviegoers feel they’ve been the step-child of the system in terms of technology improvements, Mann said that is certainly going to change.
In August, Mann Theatres bought out Texas-based Cinemark Theatres, which was their business partner in Movies 10. Mann Theatres is now the sole owner of the property, including about 7.3 acres and the Movies 10 building.
Mann said the uncertainty of the mall ownership and the difficulties in making decisions with a remote business partner kept progress from being made. Buying out Cinemark gives Mann Theatres the liberty to move forward unencumbered.
The question is whether to retrofit the building or raze it and start over, Mann said. The answer may be a complete renovation and addition. Until he meets with Baxter city officials and gets approval to move forward, Mann said he didn’t want to get into too many details. He expects to meet with the city within the next 30 days.
Mann said with the changes at the theater here, there is an expectation no films will be shown for 10 days or two weeks when work is done on the lobby area.
The addition could start in May.
Mann Theatres has been in the lakes area for a number of years and operated the three-screen theater in the Westgate Mall where Book World used to be along with the three-screen Westport Cinema, which was later replaced by retail.
In 1995, Mann Theatres announced it had bought land and intended to build its own eight-screen movie complex just east of Super One Foods. Cinemark USA Inc., Dallas, also announced it planned to lease a new 10-screen theater complex that would be constructed next to the Westgate Mall.
In the end, believing 18 new screens would saturate the market and limit profits for both theaters, Mann Theatres and Cinemark combined their efforts into a lease agreement. DDR then owned the Movies 10 at Westgate building.
Mann Theatres was in charge of management and operating the Movies 10 while Cinemark was in charge of getting movies for the theater.
Mann Theatres was founded in 1935. It operates 11 locations with 79 screens, including Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Plymouth, Cottage-View, Grand Rapids, Champlin, Hibbing and Baxter. It added 3-D to its Plymouth Cinema in 2009.
The new mall owners said the 12-screen cineplex will be a draw for the shopping center and help attract a national chain restaurant to an available spot in front of the mall in the future.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.