Altoona Mirror – New theater hosts pre-opening event

By: fioreMarketing | October 1, 2015

By Kay Stephens | October 1, 2015 | Originally posted at The Altoona Mirror

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Visitors crowd the concession lobby of the new Carmike Cinemas 12 during the VIP night event on Wednesday. Many people said they were impressed with the new theater.

It’s hard to imagine a movie screen more than 70 feet wide and three stories tall.

So inside the Carmike 12 that opened Wednesday night for a VIP reception, patrons were often in awe upon entering the large auditorium.

“I was surprised to see how big the screen is,” Jane Burkholder of Hollidaysburg said.

“The big city has finally come to Altoona,” said Victoria Mirenda, a New York City native who has lived in Altoona for 20 years.

Richard Fiore of Fiore Brothers Management LLC, the company that developed Convention Center Commons and signed up Carmike Cinemas as a tenant, said he has been anxious for people to see the largest of the theater’s 12 screens.

“Pictures and words don’t do it justice,” Fiore said. “You have to come here.”

“I cannot explain it,” said a 9-year-old Hollidaysburg boy seated with his mother, a few rows back from the wall-to-wall screen. “That’s how good it is.”

The VIP reception attracted as many as 1,400 people based on the number of RSVPs and follow-up telephone calls, theater manager Erin Wyant said. All theaters were open and showing previews during the reception. A selection of movies followed.

“This is a major leap for our community from where we were 20 years to where need to be tomorrow,” said Neil Port of Altoona, a co-founder of the P&J theater company. “You’ve got to go a lot of miles to be in a theater like this one.”

The opening of Carmike 12 marks the 30th installation of what the Columbus, Ga., company refers to as its Big D theaters with wall-to-wall screens, 2D and 3D digital projection and surround sound. The facility has 2,400 stadium-style high-back padded seats. The concession stand menu includes hot foods, beer and wine in addition to the traditional popcorn, candy and soft drinks.

“I think we’re going to go see ‘Mission Impossible,'” said David Burchfield Jr., chairman of the Allegheny Township supervisors board who in 2013 was reviewing the proposed development on paper.

Before construction started, the longtime vacant 31-acre site was a hillside of brush and trees.

It will be a risk to develop, Michael A. Fiore told township, Hollidaysburg Area School District and Blair County commissioners who approved his request for entry of the site into the state’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program, allowing incremental real estate tax breaks for five years.

“The future tax revenue is going to be much more than it would have been for the vacant land,” Richard Fiore said Wednesday.

The Altoona Blair County Development Corp. also supported the project and assisted with securing a $2 million grant used toward infrastructure.

Carmike 12 is the first tenant to open its doors on the site where Leonard S. Fiore Inc. started construction in June 2014 and worked with more than 25 subcontractors.

Carmike 12 will open its doors at 4 p.m. today and show the following movies at 5 p.m.: “Ant-Man,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Divergent: Insurgents,” “Furious,” “Inside Out,” “Jurassic World,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Minions,” “Mission Impossible 5,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “San Andreas” and “Spongebob Squarepants 2.” Tickets, drinks and popcorn will be $2, with sales to benefit Fort Roberdeau’s Veterans Recognition Program.

An 8 p.m. showing of “The Martian” starring Matt Damon will be offered at regular prices.