Kansas City-based AMC Theatres squaring off against newcomer Cinetopia in a Hollywood-esque fight to the finish for suburban supremacy at the movies.
KC Confidential‘s Jack Poessiger set the stage for a potential showdown by carefully measuring the distance between AMC’s Town Center and Cinetopia’s coming soon Overland Park 17. Just under two miles, the odometer of Poessiger’s trusty Mercedes indicated.
More than close enough to spark a showdown between the two theaters over something in the trade known as “playing day and date.”
Meaning both complexes get to play hot new releases like X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 1 at the same time when they are released.
“That’ll be something to watch,” Poessiger says. “Whether AMC says to the film companies that they won’t play a movie if it plays at Cinetopia.”
Years ago after the once-mighty Dickinson Theatres opened its prestigious, Southglen 12 near 119th and Metcalf and the nearby Cinemark Movies 10 came into being, AMC was in the position of playing the interloper at Town Center.
Talk at the time centered on Dickinson wanting to protect its 3,400 seat $8 million investment by convincing movie companies not to allow AMC to screen the same new blockbusters it was showing.
Dickinson and Cinemark had been essentially dividing new movies two ways.
Ah, but AMC wanted none of that and let it be known that it wanted to play day and date with the other two complexes. Much to Dickinson’s chagrin.
Initially the Southglen and Movies 10 prevailed and for the holiday movie season in 1997 after Town Center opened, the three theaters split the Christmas releases three ways.
“(AMC) will be playing their movies and we’ll be playing our movies,” then Dickinson head due Wood Dickinson told me, appearing pleased that there would be no duplication of movies from theater to theater.
AMC on the other hand was unhappy.
“The consumer should be able to choose which theater to go to just like they can with Nordstroms and Dillards,” an AMC spokesman told me.
And while movie sources say they suspect AMC will claim Cinetopia’s 17 holer at 135th and Nall is too close, let the record show that in 2003 AMC reportedly had its eyeballs on opening another theater in that same complex under different owners.
When Dickinson was moving forward with plans for its Palazzo theaters near 135th and Antioch, AMC let it be known that it was “committed to the south Johnson County trade area and is moving forward with our plans for a high-profile project there.”
Dickinson said at the time the area could not support two theaters and AMC would be competing with its own theater at Town Center.
That was then.
Cinetopia spokespersons Jerid Falconer and Nick Webster could not be reached for this column.
So let’s do a little thinking outside of the box, as they say.
For starters, pretty much anybody in South Johnson County who goes to many movies knows that for years, on a good night, AMC’s Town Center theater is often jam packed. And in the 15 or so years since it opened, the surrounding population has skyrocketed.
In addition to that, the on-again, off-again development just south of 135th Street between Metcalf and Nall is definitely on again and going great guns. AMC had its eye on that same real estate a handful of years back, so it would appear the company felt the area could support two megaplexes.
In addition to that, it’s hard to fathom that a small company like Cinetopia would make a huge investment in a state-of-the-art movie complex if it hadn’t done its due diligence and made sure it would be able to play a full compliment of first run movies.
“When it comes to the ego of AMC head Gerry Lopez, who has reportedly taken stands against competitors in other markets, all bets arew off,” says a source. “And now he’s pouring a bunch of money into Town Center. He may just be the kind of guy who says, ‘Don’t fuck with me.'”
In other words, AMC could refuse to play day and date with Cinetopia and refuse to carry first run blockbusters that Cinetopia gets at Town Center.
Just last month Viva Cinema of Houston said it closed its doors seven months after opening because AMC “kept it from showing first run movies at the same time they air at AMC.”