A new movie palace rises in Middletown
The Westown Movies location will have 12 auditoriums and 1,911 seats.
By John Chambless
The way Rick Roman sees it, "Middletown isn't just getting a movie theater. It's getting the best theater in Delaware."
Roman, a project consultant for Helmick Westown LLC, said the 12-screen Westown Movies that is slated to open in November is going to be a major attraction in a market of some 76,000 people who now drive to Glasgow or Dover to see a movie. There will be 1,911 stadium-style seats in the 12 auditoriums, and each seat is going to be special.
"We're putting the seats on 21-inch risers, so you'll be 21 inches above the seat in front of you," Roman said. "You could have LeBron James sitting in front of you and he won't be in your way."
The seats will be mounted to the risers without legs, so the floor will be easier to keep clean, Roman said. "Most theaters won't do that because it costs more money, but we're putting the customer first. We're a brand-new theater with an emphasis on being the best we can be for the customer."
One of the auditoriums will be a state-of-the-art GTX Theatre with a giant screen, top-notch sound system, luxury seating and extra leg room.
There will be 30 to 40 people hired to work in the theater, which will offer ticketing online, through a smart phone app, at kiosks in the lobby and at a cashier station. "We want people to buy their tickets ahead of time, because waiting in line doesn't add to the experience of going to the movies and having fun," Roman said.
There's a grand opening plan sketched out, but with the actual opening date still unknown, Roman couldn't give out details. But one surprising feature will greet every patron: A mural in the lobby will spotlight Middletown's history.
"Theater chains like Regal have a certain architectural plan that they use, but we're locally owned, so we decided to tie into the Middletown area," Roman said. "We felt doing a mural was the best way to do it. We'll have photographs of the Everett Theatre, Cochran Square, the Peach Festival, Main Street and so on. The photos were supplied by the Middletown Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society."
The 44,500-square-foot theater, estimated to cost $12 million to $15 million, will be an anchor for the 42-acre Westown Town Centre commercial development that will eventually include restaurants and stores on nearby pad sites. It sits on Route 301 near the Walmart store. A new road, Commerce Drive, will run through the property.
The November opening date means the theater staff will have to hit the ground running, Roman said.
"The movie theater business is driven by the product. If you're opening in September, for instance, and there are no blockbuster movies out, you could have a quieter opening," he said. "But since we're hoping to open around Thanksgiving, we'll be in one of the busiest times of the year."
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail email@example.com.