BAXTER — Moviegoers can breathe a sigh of relief.
The summer movie season is back in business in Baxter. At least eight screens out of 12 are expected to be up and running for a June 15 reopening. The former Movies 10 theater closed for a major renovation, which basically gutted the interior to create stadium seating. The two newly constructed auditoriums on the building’s west side will be open by the Fourth of July.
The new theater includes a party room, three 3D screens, and digital projectors for increased quality of images and sound. Additional exterior work and landscaping may not be completed until August.
Late last week, several auditoriums were nearly complete. Some of the new seats were still wearing plastic covers. In others, seats had yet to be installed on the new stadium seating risers. When the construction work is complete in the auditoriums, cleaning crews arrive in 24-hour shifts to prepare for the opening.
Steve Mann, president at Mann Theatres, which owns Lakes 12, and Benjie Mann, vice president, originally hoped to have the theater open Friday, but difficulty getting some parts delayed their plans. Benjie Mann said the June 15 date is solid.
While the opening is a little later than they hoped, the Manns said it still should be in time to get in the summer blockbuster “The Avengers.”
Initially the Manns didn’t expect to be able to show “The Avengers,” which opened May 4. But Benjie Mann said the movie has done so well it remains No. 2 at the box office and continues to pull in viewers. The theater’s auditoriums allow it to show the latest releases in the biggest rooms and then move movies to smaller auditoriums after a longer release.
Other movies initially expected at the opening include “Madagascar 3” in 3D, the sci-fi thriller “Prometheus” along with “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Men in Black 3.”
The movies will be shown in the new digital format. Digital projectors were installed to replace their 35-millimeter film predecessors. Movies are now downloaded into the projectors. Auditoriums also have new wall-to-wall screens.
For the June 15 opening, moviegoers will have a temporary entrance. Once the work on the lobby is completed, the main entrance — marked by pillars — will face the parking area.
Last week, the lobby was still in progress with work to be done at the new concessions counter constructed in the former arcade area. The self-serve pop machines were in place along the wall where the concessions counter used to be.
Movies 10 was constructed in 1996. Sunset Cinema in Jenkins has been one of the beneficiaries since the Baxter theater closed this spring for its renovation and expansion. With no theater in Baxter, the parking lot at Sunset Cinema had a multitude of vehicles to indicate an increase in patrons.
The Manns report the renovation is not going to translate into an increase in movie ticket costs other than the higher price typically charged for a 3D movie. The theater is currently hiring.