At Redmond Town Center recently, a number of stores which originally opened on ten-year leases when the center itself first opened have now closed, as those leases have expired and not been renewed. These stores all seem to be concentrated in one particular corner of the main mall area, and include the Limited, Abercrombie and Express stores. Perhaps a more notable closure at Town Center is that of the movie theater, which also opened with the mall and closed their doors last month. I can only recall seeing a movie at this theater once during its ten-year run one time, but then again I’m not a big movie fan, so I could probably count the number of times I’ve been in any movie theater during the last decade on one hand. The design of this particular theater was very much a product of the nineties, and the sign you see above reflects this. Needless to say, the “technicolor ransom note” design on the sign hasn’t really stood the test of time.
From the outside, the late 90s style design is evident in some of the other styling cues. The interior is covered by blackout material on the windows though, and the Cineplex Odeon sign above the ticket window is covered up in black plastic. The Fandango ticket dispensers you see here have had all of their electronic components removed, leaving just empty shells. The places where the screens used to be are covered up with what appears to be clipboards inserted inside the unit.
Turning around, we can see this little sculpture, ostensibly intended for use as a bike rack, although I can’t ever recall seeing any bikes parked there. Next to this, we see a container that is normally filled with umbrellas for shoppers to use on rainy days.
Here we see the box offices for the old theater, as well as what passes for a marquee these days (although most newer theaters now use digital displays to show movies and showtimes.) About a week before I took this picture, the sign read “Th-Th-That’s All Folks,” but it was too dark at the time to get a picture of it. For the time being, it looks like there are openings in the windows where the speaker used to be. If we take a look inside…
It turns out that the place has already been completely gutted out. I took these photos on Saturday, and at the time I was not aware of any future plans for this space, aside from a vague statement by Town Center management in a news article about the store closures about the possibility of another entertainment venue, but just yesterday it became clear what would be opening here: Another theater, set to open in October. The Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinema won’t be anything like the old AMC theater though; it will come with high-end amenities, and a high-end price tag. From the Times article, we find out that the new theater will still have eight screens, but there will be no more than 40 seats per screen arranged in pairs, and each of those seats will recline and feature a call button for service, with plenty of legroom to boot. The theater will also feature a full restaurant and lounge, open to moviegoers only, with delivery to your seat. Combine that with reserved seating and valet parking, and you have what sounds like a very different way to go see a movie than the standard megaplex theatres could possibly offer. All of this comes at a price though: The regular admission charge for a movie will be $35 per ticket, with matinees costing $20-25.
It will be interesting to see if they can manage to pull this off. They claim that this approach is intended to bring people who have stopped going to the movies back into the theater, and I can see where this might be the case. On the other hand, $35 per person seems like a rather steep price just to go see a movie, and that’s not even counting the additional expenses of food and drink that one might incur there. When you think about it, for $35 you could buy a movie on Blu-Ray (assuming you have a player for it, which is a definite possibility if you’re in the demographic that they’re targeting with this place) and watch it in the comfort of your own home. If they are going to get something like this to work, Redmond seems like as good a place as any to try it (although if there was space for it, I could see something like this showing up at Bellevue Square as well.)
I suspect they’ll put the big drywall barriers over the old theater before too long, but if possible, I’ll keep an eye on this. Note that Redmond Town Center is the next mall I plan to profile after I finish Crossroads (that one should be coming soon, I think…)
Update 4/4/08: Here’s one more photo of the theater I found in my images directory, from shortly before it closed. Not a lot to see, but it should provide a bit of context.