Movie house merry-go-round

By Jeff Vice, Deseret News movie critic
Deseret News, 20 April 2001, page W01

Article Summary:

About 10 Salt Lake area theaters and multiplexes closed between the end of 1999 and April 2001.  

Loews Cineplex Odeon Theaters:
Crossroads Plaza
Holladay Center
South Towne Center
Trolley North
Trolley Square Mall

Carmike Theaters:
Creekside Center
Plaza 5400

Consolidated Theaters:
Sandy Starships
Cinemas 5

Tower Theatre

Cinemark's Sandy Movies 9 has found a second life as discount, or "dollar," house.

Consolidated Theaters reopened Plaza 5400 (now called Showcase Cinemas 6) last weekend as a dollar theater, promising added attention to service and lower-than-normal concession prices.  

Westates is mulling over the idea of turning the South Towne Center facility into an "intermediary" showhouse.

Westates is anticipating taking over Trolley Corners this fall.  According to Tony Rudman Jr., vice president and corporate counsel for Westates Theaters, the local chain plans to restore that theater to its former glory.  "That's a great area to have a theater," Rudman said. "And it could be really competitive come next year."

A new multiplex in the Gateway Center may be ready to open by the end of the year, but plans for building a new multiplex in the Crossroads Plaza now appear to be dead in the water due to the financial instability of the movie-theater industry.

Westates took over the Trolley North from Loews late last year.

Loews closed the 14-year-old Holladay Center in March.  Westates re-opened the theater this weekend after spending several thousand dollars to refurbish several hundred of the seats, install new computer software for ticketing and concessions, and spruce up the sound in the auditoriums.  Of the Holladay Center, Rudman said, "We think we've got the best theater in the area.  This is a premium facility, and it's the perfect location. This theater fills a need for the area."

The Tower, still independently owned, was taken over by a new management team last winter, but has still had to persuade movie distributors that the theater was now in more reputable hands.  "It's a year and a half later, and we're still having to mend fences (with the distributors)," said Brooke Harper, the theater's general manager and booker.  ". . . it's really been a struggle.  I almost think it would be easier to start from scratch than have to repair your theater's reputation when it's been run badly for years."

The new management could only afford to refurbish the Tower in stages.  The hardwood floor has been redone in the theater, the seats have been reupholstered, padded and respaced, and the sound system has been upgraded significantly.