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Part of theater multiplex to open

April 25, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

The new state-of-the-art R/C Theatres multiplex at Valley Mall is set to open May 12 with movies running on about five of its planned 16 screens, an official with the Reisterstown, Md.-based movie theater chain said Tuesday.

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The other screens will open on a staggered basis as desirable movies become available, Executive Vice President David Phillips said.

The gradual opening has been planned since the project's inception, Phillips said.

A May 2000 opening was not.

The 65,000-square-foot theater - featuring stadium seating, digital sound, rocking chairs, expanded concession fare and a reserved seating option - originally was to open before the end of 1999 but was held up by a construction delay, he said.

Crown American, the mall's owner, was supplying the building site, which wasn't ready as early as R/C Theatres' original plan had called for, Phillips said.

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Based on when the theater construction started, the company was expecting a spring completion and had announced a tentative April opening, he said.

The company considers the May date on schedule, Phillips said.

Because April and May are both slow movie months, with few new releases, there wasn't any urgency to push for a late April opening, he said.

The May 12 opening will put the theater into play before Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the hot summer movie season, Phillips said.

The theater has started hiring and will have 60 to 75 employees, mainly part-timers, he said.

R/C Theatres owns the two movie theaters now in Washington County, Hagerstown Cinema 10 on Leitersburg Pike, a first-run theater, and the three-screen Long Meadow Cinemas at Long Meadow Shopping Center, which shows second-run movies.

The company hasn't determined whether the new multiplex - referred to in the industry as a megaplex based on the large number of screens - will show movies also being shown at Hagerstown Cinema 10, Phillips said.

The fate of the Hagerstown Cinema 10 in the wake of the new theater's opening hasn't been decided, he said.

The company is committed to both theaters and is looking at different options, Phillips said.

He said the company has been talking with movie companies about some "creative options," but couldn't say what those options are.

The two theaters may be far enough apart that they draw audiences from different areas of the region and can run many of the same movies, Phillips said.

Plans for the new Centre at Hagerstown shopping complex at Interstate 81 and U.S. 40 originally called for a 16-screen theater but were changed after developers decided the local market couldn't support two megaplexes.

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