Expansion under way at Los Banos theater

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 25, 2012 

Premiere Cinemas will add two 3-D screens to its Los Banos theater, just in time for next summer's crop of superheroes, explosions and sequels.

Craig Tankersley, general manager of the Hollister-based theater, said a construction crew broke ground about three weeks ago to expand the multiplex to eight screens -- a $662,000 project, according to city documents.

"We'll be able to bring more product for different genres of film," Tankersley said.

A half-dozen or so new films release every week, and more screens mean more variety.

"When you have something that's doing well, you're going to carry it two or three weeks," he said. "So you're passing up on material."

The project is scheduled to be completed in late April or early May, Tankersley said. The blockbuster movies of summer kick off in May, and theaters do well despite families tightening their purse strings.

"We find, when it does get bad, then people stay local," he said, referring to the economy. "So, your movie theaters stay at an even keel."

Along with large, curved 3-D screens, the theaters will have 140 stadium seats each and digital surround sound. Inside the lobby and above the popcorn, two new TVs have been installed to show movie trailers and will display free advertising for community events, nonprofits and schools, Tankersley said.

"We play the movie trailers to keep customers entertained while they're waiting in line for concessions," he said, "but the more community events and such -- we'd love to do that."

The cinema will also begin selling tickets online at www.premierecinemas.net in the coming weeks, he said.

The art house film series that's been playing every Wednesday, which does well in Hollister, will cease in Los Banos, he said.

"It hasn't done so well here, in Los Banos," he said.

So, what genre does best in Los Banos? Tankersley said it's horror.

" 'Paranormal Activity' did very well," he said, referring to the newly released found-footage flick. "(Also) romantic comedies and, always, the family-kids movies do very well."

The Hollister theater opened in 1995 and expanded from six to 10 screens in 2005. The Los Banos location opened in 2001. The theater's only Los Banos competition, USA Cinemas, closed in 2010.

Juanita Lopez, general manager for the Los Banos location, said she is on pace to surpass the 200,000 tickets sold in 2011.

"With the addition, we definitely expect to go up more," she said.

To advertise on the theater's lobby TVs, contact Lopez at j.lopez@premierecinemas.net.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

enterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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