News

Silver screens returning to mall

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

SeaTac Mall added a key piece to its redevelopment with the announcement this week that a 16-screen movie theater will open there next year.

Century Theatres, a San Rafael, Calif.-based movie exhibitor, said Wednesday it will break ground on the mall theater in March and has scheduled a late-2004 opening.

The mall has been without a theater since August 2001, when AMC closed SeaTac South. AMC also shuttered its SeaTac North theater a few blocks from the mall in September 2002, leaving Federal Way with only one moviehouse, the Galaxy 8 at Gateway Center.

That will change with Century’s first entry in the greater-Seattle cinema market and in Washington.

The new theater "will answer the call for culture within our redeveloped mall,” said Jim Yoder, vice president of Steadfast Commercial Properties, the Newport Beach, Calif. company that bought the mall in February and has since redesigned the main public entrances and made cosmetic changes to the interior in an attempt to revitalize the indoor shopping center.

Industry observers generally agree that movie theaters are important to making malls destinations for entertainment as well as shopping.

Yoder said Century “is known for building the highest caliber of theater.”

In addition to the 16 screens that will make it the biggest moviehouse in Federal Way and one of the largest in south King County, the new theater

will feature stadium-style seating, wall-to-wall screens, rocking love seats

and a cafe.

Century wouldn’t disclose the cost of the project.

“Our theaters offer the finest movies, the most luxurious seats and the finest popcorn –– with real butter,” said Raymond W. Syufy, Century’s chairman. He added the company has “long looked forward to an opportunity to bring our brand of moviegoing experience to the Seattle market.”

Century, reputedly the seventh-largest theater circuit in the U.S., will make Washington its 12th state of operations. The others are California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Alaska and Illinois.

The company was started in 1941 by Raymond J. Syufy in Vallejo,

Calif. His sons, Raymond W. and Joseph Syufy, are at the helm now.

In 2000, a new division, CinéArts, was started in Evanston, Ill. to show art and independent films in state-of-the-art theaters. There are six CineArts locations.

According to information on-line at www.centurytheatres.com, Century is “in the midst of a major expansion” that will add 250 screens over the next three years. Century Theatres/CineArts owns and operates a combined 900 screens in 11 states.

“A lot of research” went into choosing the Federal Way location, said Nancy Klosky, vice president of marketing for Century.

The only competition here is Galaxy 8. Formerly part of General Cinema until it closed in September 2000, it reopened three months later under the wing of Galaxy Theatres of Los Angeles, Calif. Since then, Gateway Center, which owns the theater, has twice announced plans to expand it. The last announcement was in October 2002, when officials said three additional screens would be in use by the end of 2003. That schedule hasn’t been met, but “we are proceeding,” said Dan Casey, Gateway president.

“While there might be another theater company considering the Federal Way market, our new cinema and the amenities we will be adding will be the most exciting and convenient,” Casey added.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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