Theater expansion nears completion

Willie Flowers mixes varnish in one of the three new auditoriums in the new addition Monday at the North Plains Cinema 4. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

An expansion project at Allen Theaters in the North Plains Mall that was delayed more than two months by weather is nearing completion.

Russell Allen, general manager of Allen Theaters, said the projected opening date for the new-look complex that will feature three new screens (seven total), stadium seating and additional parking is two to three weeks.

With the $1 million-plus expansion seating will increase from 800 to 1,200, he said.

Heavy rains in the fall slowed the project down considerably, Allen said. The original projected completion date was Dec. 17.

“The light is at the end of the tunnel,” Allen said.

Adding the screens will make the theater more attractive to movie distributors, not necessarily in regards to mainstream movies but the more critically acclaimed variety that are not mass produced.

“It’s a matter of being able to show more of a variety of movies,” Allen said. “And hopefully we’ll be able to get two prints of the same movie which will allow us to add more show times for the more popular movies.”

Allen said he plans to add five part-time employees.

Clovis resident Jennifer Brandon complained in a recent e-mail to the newspaper that the theater doesn’t get movies fast enough. She said she will be going to Lubbock to see movies in the future.

Allen said production companies look at the demographics and gross receipts of the theater to determine when a theater will get a movie.

“We’re playing 95 percent of the films every year, it’s just a matter of when we are able to get it,” Allen said. “There is a misconception that we are choosing not to show a picture, and that is not true at all.”

According to a local developer, movie-goers will have another option in Clovis by the end of the year.

Sam Snell said he has purchased land near Llano Estacado and intends to break ground on his International Theaters project in the next couple of months, he said. His theater will feature 10 screens and state of the art projectors, he said.

His original building plans hit a snag at the end of 2002 when local citizens raised concerns his domed building design would be an eyesore and the Clovis Planning and Zoning Committee raised concerns over drainage, parking and traffic problems.

Snell said he has since reverted to a more traditional theater design that resolves the citizens’ concerns, he said.