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Theater's new look gets two thumbs up

Four new movie screens and larger concession stands have patrons praising the new Spring Hill 8 theater.

Since the June 23 grand opening, the theater, formerly known as Cinema Square, has been packed with people eager to see the latest summer releases and get a glimpse of the renovated and updated theater.

"Business has increased considerably," said Bill Koontz, district manager for Cobb Theatres, which owns the theater on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill. "Attendance has doubled compared to November and December records."

The theater, which had been closed for several months while the expansion from four screens and a tiny lobby was taking place, features two ticket windows, two concession stands and eight screens, with most theaters holding about 200 people. Two of the new theaters feature digital stereo sound.

Koontz said a number of people have complimented management on the Birmingham chairs in the theaters. "They notice the difference," he said.

The chairs, which are specially made for Cobb Theatres, are higher and wider and have thicker cushions than older models.

Debbie Cleaveland of Brooksville, who saw Pocahontas earlier this week with her two daughters and some friends, said the new theater is "a lot nicer."

However, she said she discovered there was a price to pay for the luxuries.

Besides finding the theater too cold, Cleaveland found the cost of snacks a bit high. She said she spent nearly $15 for three small drinks, two boxes of candy and a medium popcorn.

"I almost fainted," she said. "I really don't think they need to charge that much. It restricts people, especially if you have a lot of kids."

However, Cleaveland said the Spring Hill theater isn't the only one charging high prices. Cleaveland said she and her husband, with three children, spent more than $50 earlier this year for a night at the movies in Inverness.

"We would go to the movies more often if it didn't cost so much," Cleaveland said. "But I'm glad it's here. The area definitely needs a theater like this."

Ticket prices at Spring Hill 8 are $5.75 for adults, $5 for military personnel and $3.75 for children and senior citizens. All matinee tickets, for shows starting before 6 p.m., are $3.75.

The children seemed to notice only the theater's new look.

"The high ceiling is really cool," said Belinda Russel, 11, of Brooksville.

"I think the whole place is really neat," added her 12-year-old sister, Blair. "And the bathrooms are clean, too."

Lauren Cleaveland, 11, who is a devoted fan of The Wizard of Oz, was quick to notice Oz characters were included in a strip of movie reels running along the main lobby walls near the ceiling.

"We all liked the movie reels," her mother said. "It makes the theater look more like a real cinema."

Judy Marlow, manager of the theater, said she and other theater employees have received many compliments on the renovations.

"Everyone seems to love it," she said. "Many are amazed at how different it is."

Marlow said there have been a few complaints and problems since the theater opened. "There were a couple of technical problems the first few days," she said, "but everything's running smoothly now."

Paul Jordan of Spring Hill said he loved the renovations.

"Before you only had a choice of four movies," he said. "Now, there's eight, which is good."

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