News

Only movie theater in town expanding

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

A multi-million-dollar remodeling of Galaxy 8 will give Federal Way its first true megaplex for moviegoers.

The theater will have 11 screens before the end of next year and a 12th in 2004, plus other state-of-the-art theater features, said Dan Casey, president of Gateway Center, the theater owner.

Seating for each of the existing eight screens will be converted to stadium-style, and four additional stadium-style screens will be added. Two of the new screens will each have 300-seat auditoriums to accommodate simultaneous new-release films, Casey said.

He said seating will be designed to maximize sightlines and comfort, including more leg room and wider seats.

The front of the remodeled theater will be highlighted by a glass wall 25 feet high, a canopy covering the entrance and a new box office. Information on whether shows are sold out and show times will be visible for arriving customers from their automobiles.

Inside the revamped and expanded lobby will be kiosks for buying tickets by credit card, similar to kiosks at airport terminals, more space for buying concessions, and a projector showing movie trailers of current and coming attractions.

Casey said construction will start Ž“immediately afterŽ” the New Year holiday with remodeling of the lobby and conversions to stadium-style seating. There will usually be only one screen closed at any time and never more than two, and work will be during the theaterŽ’s off-hours, he said.

The switch to stadium seating, which has a steeper rise from the front row to the back than older-designed theaters, wonŽ’t require digging deeper floors. The theaterŽ’s existing ceilings are high enough for the redesign, Casey said.

The contractor hasnŽ’t been announced but will come from among a limited number of theater specialists. The project architect is KDRA, a Phoenix, Ariz. firm whose theater design division has done business nationwide, Casey said.

Planning for the project began last November. Megaplex theater operations in other cities and states have been studied for latest moviegoing amenities, right down to the most convenient and sensible locations for trashcans, Casey said.

The projected cost of the project wasnŽ’t disclosed by Casey, but he said itŽ’s in the multi-millions.

When finished, the remodeled theater will be the only one of its kind in south King County. It already is the only one in Federal Way since the closure in early September of SeaTac North by AMC Entertainment.

AMC is closing its smaller theaters like the six-screen SeaTac North as part of its national market strategy favoring megaplexes. AMC said it has no plans for returning to Federal Way. Galaxy 8, part of Los Angeles, Calif.-based Galaxy Theatres, is at the Gateway Center shopping center near the South 320th Street exit off Interstate 5.

The Galaxy chain has six theaters, with a large presence in Washington. A 12-plex is open in Monroe, and another one is planned for the Olympia area.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and by e-mail at editor@fedwaymirror.com

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