Can a fledgling movie exhibitor take on the mighty, Kansas City-based AMC and Dickinson theater chains and live to tell the story?
We may be about to find out. And then again, we may not.
Movie insiders are skeptical about recently reported plans for Vancouver-based Cinetopia to open its fourth movie venue at 135th and Nall in a planned development called Prairiefire at LionsGate. The move would lock the six year-old Cinetopia in head-to-head battle with AMC’s Town Center Plaza (119th and Nall) and Dickinson’s Palazzo (135th and Antioch).
"If they go in there, I think what will happen is what happened to the new theater that closed last year at Zona Rosa," one theater exec says."The competitors will refuse to play day and date with them, and the movie studios will have to decide which theater to give the movies to. So the new theater would only get half of the product.
"This is supposed to be a very luxurious megaplex, but can it exist on only half the Hollywood theater output? And they’re not big enough to get any assurances (from the studios) – they’re a small circuit out of the west coast."
The proposed Cinetopia is almost exactly 2 miles from both AMC’s Town Center and Dickinson’s Palazzo. Both of those movieplexes play "day and date" – meaning both have access to all of the first run movies available in the marketplace.
"I don’t see it happening," the movie exec says. "There have been too many other movie theater announcments for that area that never happened. And usually they say in the industry that a zone is a 5 mile radius. But Cinetopia would be placing itself right between the two other theaters."
Cinetopia officials did not return calls for this column.