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Bigger screen, better viewing at Beacon Cinemas in Spring Hill

A new view of the lobby of the Beacon Stadium Cinemas, whose overall expansion is highlighted by a GTX super screen.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

A new view of the lobby of the Beacon Stadium Cinemas, whose overall expansion is highlighted by a GTX super screen.

SPRING HILL — Without heavy hype from the corporation behind Beacon Stadium Cinemas' new super-sized GTX screen, people are learning about it on their own.

Or by just showing up to see a movie.

The curtain rose two weeks ago on Georgia Theater Co.'s four-story-high, 80-foot-wide screen in an auditorium featuring luxury seats and an advanced Dolby Surround 7.1 sound system. But Nick Rosario and Ricky Alvaraz, of Spring Hill, said that they went to the theater near the corner of Cortez and Mariner boulevards just to see Transformers: Age of Extinction.

They were pleasantly surprised to find that it was shown on a screen twice the size of a normal one.

"It felt like I was right there in (the action)," Rosario, 21, said as he and Alvaraz left the theater Saturday afternoon.

Although the duo paid the standard $10 matinee price, Rosario said the normal $3 bump over regular-screen admission for evening shows "would be worth it."

Eric Glass, 34, another Spring Hill resident, said he had recently been researching IMAX theaters in Tampa when he came upon a reference to a similar screen locally.

"It's right here," he told his family.

After watching Transformers in the new theater, Glass' son, Bryan, 8, said, "It was more bigger and better."

Eric Glass relished the spacious, comfy seats that can be rocked.

"They fit me better. You get more room," he said. "For a (nearly) three-hour movie, my back didn't hurt."

The opening was a long time coming. Georgia Theatre Co. of St. Simons Island, Ga., announced plans for the renovations to the complex last year.

At the time, there were no extreme screens — those that attempt to match the immersive experience of an IMAX theater — between Spring Hill and Tampa, company president Bo Chambliss said.

That still seems to be the case, corporate promotions manager Ansley Scoville said.

The new auditorium seats 350. Theater manager Holly Hardemon said attendance is averaging about 150 per screening.

The company has not advertised the screen and the grand opening is not likely to be scheduled until the completion of two "VIP" theaters later this month. These will also feature more luxurious seating and have the added attraction of a lounge area selling wine and beer, Scoville said.

Already, the complex opens its doors on an expanded lobby with two concession stands, one with 10 service stations to efficiently handle crowd influxes immediately before the movies start.

Assistant manager Aimee Cooper also noted additions to the menu, including nachos with cheese, and soft pretzels that come either salted or coated in cinnamon.

Pizza, sandwiches and salads are planned.

The second concession stand offers self-serve soft drinks and popcorn.

The outside box office is no more. Rather, tickets are purchased from a machine or at concession stands.

Georgia Theatre Co., with 31 locations, is spending approximately $4 million on new construction and refurbishing the theater in Hernando, Scoville said.

"Beacon Theatre is a well-performing theater for us," Chambliss said last spring. "And the market is big enough for two more screens and we felt the large-format screen will do well in that market."

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Bigger screen, better viewing at Beacon Cinemas in Spring Hill 07/10/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2014 4:31pm]
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