MOVIE MADNESS High-Tech, Glitzy Theaters Are Popping Up All over Jacksonville to Keep Up with Movie-Goer Demand

By Crownover, Catherine | The Florida Times Union, April 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

MOVIE MADNESS High-Tech, Glitzy Theaters Are Popping Up All over Jacksonville to Keep Up with Movie-Goer Demand


Crownover, Catherine, The Florida Times Union


It's showtime in Jacksonville, where movie connoisseurs are about

to be spoiled.

Construction is under way on a glitzy, high-tech movie theater

with 24 screens at the Orange Park Mall and plans are on the

drawing board for similar theaters in Regency and on the Southside.

At the same time, new video stores are popping up across the

city.

"Jacksonville has always been a big movie town. We love to go

see movies," said Todd Roobin, manager of the Jacksonville Film

and Television Commission. "We have a pretty steady audience that

goes out to the theaters seven days a week."

A national passion for high-budget movies loaded with special

effects is helping to fuel the demand for more movie screens and

video rental outlets.

Movie theater chains are building modern, new theaters with

the latest in screen and sound technology to capture the full

impact of new releases. Many new theaters also feature cushy

stadium-style seating with cupholder armrests and concession

stands with extensive selections.

"For years and years, you've been seeing technological

advances in movies, but you're still seeing movies in theaters

that are 20 years old," said Marc Arenstein, senior vice

president of real estate for American Multi-Cinema Inc.'s South

division.

"There's a proliferation of extraordinary movies coming out.

We need new movie theaters to show them in," said Arenstein,

referring to last year's blockbusters including Independence Day,

Twister and Mission Impossible.

In 1996, box office sales reached almost $5.8 billion, an 8.5

percent increase over 1995's receipts, according to entertainment

industry experts Paul Kagan Associates Inc. of Carmel, Calif. Box

office sales were estimated at $25 million in Jacksonville.

Of the 132 widely released movies in 1996, 22 achieved

blockbuster status by grossing sales of $100 million or more. In

1995, only seven out of 109 movies were blockbusters, according

to Paul Kagan Associates.

Box office hits eventually become top sellers at video rental

stores. That's why the video rental industry giants are

scrambling to expand.

"As long as they continue to do big-budget movies, people will

continue to rent movies, no question about it," said Doug Gordon,

senior vice president of finance for Hollywood Video, which has

two new stores in Jacksonville.

Last year, U.S. consumers spent $16 billion renting and buying

videos, according to Paul Kagan Associates. Nearly 87 percent of

U.S. households own videocassette recorders, according to the

Video Software Dealers Association.

And in Jacksonville, consumers spent an estimated $60 million

renting and buying videos.

Movies are a popular form of entertainment because they are

relatively inexpensive and they allow people to unwind, said

Felix Berardo, a sociologist with the University of Florida.

"Movies have always been an escape. Some people just enjoy

going to movies. The younger generation enjoys going to the

movies, because they're a video generation," Berardo said.

Renting videos offers consumers an even more affordable, more

relaxing way to enjoy movies. "When you go to a movie, you can

spend a lot more on the popcorn than you did on the movie,"

Berardo said.

While movie lovers in Jacksonville are in for a big-screen

treat with the arrival of new theater and video outlets, the

surge in new entertainment options could have a down side.

It may create a shakeout in the industry similar to how

Wal-Mart and other superstores such as The Home Depot have

stamped out many small retailers. …

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