Cineplex Odeon opened the University Mall Cinemas as a first-run movie theater 1989. The four-screen multiplex is located in the northeast parking lot and was built to replace the older University Mall I & II Theaters inside the mall. The new theater complex has 1,000 seats and Dolby Stereo sound.
After Cineplex Odeon entered bankruptcy in 2001, the theater closed and sat idle for two years. On 4 April 2003, Don Clifton of Spokane, Washington reopened the University Mall Cinemas as a dollar theater. Clifton expects the theater to do well, even though it is close to the nearby Cinemark Movies 8 discount theater, because Utah County is home to large families and poor college students.
On 1 September 2007, Brady Whittingham and Tyler Measom bought the University Mall Cinema business from Don Clifton, even though they knew that their lease would not be renewed in 2008.
"We need a location for our family-friendly independent film festival, which began in June this year. We rented space from Clifton for our first film fest in June at the University Mall Cinema, and had so much response we decided to make this an annual event here," Whittingham said.
The dollar theater closed for renovations on 9 September 2008. The new owners updated the marquee, renovated and cleaned the interior, and installed a digital projector to be used for free showings of athletic games. Seats in all four auditoriums were steam cleaned and repaired. One screen will be dedicated to showing independent films, in partnership with the Salt Lake Film Society. A grand opening for the renamed Festival Cinemas was held on 15 September 2008.
Festival Cinemas will need to close within ninety days of the Fall 2008 opening of the new Cinemark at University Mall. The former dollar theater building will then be converted to retail use.
1. "A new discount cinema in Orem", Deseret News, 4 April 2003, Page B1 and "New cinema expands dollar-theater options", BYU Newsnet, 8 April 2003
2. "Orem dollar theater to close when Cinemark opens in 2008", Daily Herald, 6 September 2007
3. “Festival Cinemas gets a new life”, Deseret Morning News, 18 October 2007