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Renovated theater is newest ticket in town

The opening is a week later than originally planned, but officials at Cobb Theatres promise that the renovated and updated Spring Hill 8 theater complex will please moviegoers.

Grand opening activities are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. today, and theater management is anticipating thousands of patrons to converge on the complex for the opening ceremonies and the evening's first movies at 7:30.

"It is a beautiful, state-of-the-art theater," said Milt Daly, senior vice president of Cobb Theatres.

As patrons enter the theater, formerly known as Cinema Square, on U.S. 19 behind Wal-Mart, they no longer will see the dull-colored carpeting on the floor, and they will find the previously cramped lobby gone.

The new and larger lobby towers about 50 feet, with brightly painted walls of teal and lavender. Near the ceiling, the walls are encircled by film strips of some of Hollywood's most famous stars, and the floor is tiled in black and white.

The complex has been expanded from four to eight screens, with has 1,580 seats. Each theater features wall-to-wall screens.

"The smallest screen will be a minimum of 15 feet high by 22 feet wide," Daly said.

The four new theaters at the complex will feature Cobb Theatres' new Birmingham chairs.

"They have thicker cushions and are wider and taller than the average movie seat," Daly said. "They are so much more comfortable. It's a big difference."

The new theaters also will include several seats with flip-up arms for patrons in wheelchairs.

"This will make it easy for them to slip into the seat," Daly said, "so they don't have to watch the movie from their wheelchairs."

The remaining four theaters will feature refurbished chairs, walls and screens. The back row has fewer seats, with flat spaces available for wheelchairs.

"We've gone beyond federal regulations (for disabled people)," Daly said, "to make our theaters more comfortable for everyone."

Daly said listening devices for the hearing-impaired also will be available for free.

Two of the new theaters will feature Digital Stereo Sound, with the rest in Dolby. "The digital sound is fantastic," Daly said. "The difference is amazing."

To speed up ticket sales, Spring Hill 8 will have two ticket windows featuring computerized ticketing systems. A large concession stand will be in the main lobby, and a second will be in a smaller area near the entrances to the theaters. In addition, the parking lot has doubled in size, and restrooms have been expanded.

Show times normally will begin about 1 p.m., with the last shows starting no later than 10:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $5.75 for adults and $3.75 for senior citizens and children. Military personnel can purchase tickets for $5. All tickets to daily matinees (starting before 6 p.m.) are $3.75. Tickets can be bought in advance.

The opening of Spring Hill 8 marks the completion of Cobb's second major renovation project in as many weeks.

Last week, Cobb opened the renovated Hollywood 18 theater on U.S. 19 in Port Richey.

For those wishing to catch late-night films, some movies at the Hollywood 18 will be shown starting between midnight and 1 a.m.

And about a mile south of Hollywood 18, Cobb's Embassy Six has been converted into a "second-run" theater, with $1 matinees and $1.50 evening shows.