River Cinema 12 becomes River Cinema 15The additional three screens and a second concession stand are a response to the East Grand Forks movie theater turning away customers. “Forty-eight times this year, we have sold out all 1,300 seats,” said Bob Moore, the patriarch of the family that owns theaters in four Minnesota towns.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
River Cinema 12 becomes River Cinema 15 Thursday.
The additional three screens and a second concession stand are a response to the East Grand Forks movie theater turning away customers.
“Forty-eight times this year, we have sold out all 1,300 seats,” said Bob Moore, the patriarch of the family that owns theaters in four Minnesota towns.
Starting Thursday, the complex has 1,750 seats for the 15 screens, adding another chapter to its role in the downtown’s renewal. It’s a busy place in the evenings, especially weekends, with the theater surrounded by restaurants.
“The classic date night is dinner-and-a-movie,” Moore said. “I’ve never seen a better location for that than here, with all the parking and the walking distance to so many restaurants. I couldn’t find a better place if I wanted to.
“It’s a match made in heaven.”
Jim Richter, the director of the city’s Economic Development and Housing Authority, said it’s been a winning combination.
“Downtown, we’ve been trying to reach a critical mass where places draw their own crowd and then everyone feeds off each other,” Richter said. “To use a word that was beat to death a few years ago, there’s been a synergy.”
The theaters occupy two-thirds of the former downtown mall’s 76,000 square feet. All but 2,400 square feet, about 3 percent, is being leased. Cabela’s, across DeMers Avenue, also drives downtown traffic.
The EDHA is Moore’s landlord, with a monthly rent of about $1,400. The EDHA also issued low-interest loans of $150,000 for the expansion and the initial project. The complex opened in December 2007.
Moore has an agreement to buy the facility in 2014, when the federal Economic Development Administration will allow it. The EDA gave $2 million to the city in 1998 to buy the then Riverwalk Centre as part of 1997 flood recovery efforts.
Moore said he’s spent $3.5 million on the River Cinema, $2.5 million initially and $1 million for the expansion.
Richter said Moore’s timing was perfect in the hard-to-predict business world.
“You never know the best use of something until it happens and becomes very successful,” Richter said. “The movie industry was just right for competition and it all came together.”
Latest technology added
Moore’s four children manage the theaters in Blackduck, Fosston, Crookston and East Grand Forks.
In keeping with that family atmosphere, his relatives and theater employees — the likes of concession workers and projectionists — did most of the expansion’s construction work.
All of the new projectors are digital and capable of showing 3D movies. The space between rows of seats is wider, meaning more leg room and an unblocked view of the screen,
His plans include adding D-BOX seating. The D-BOX technology results in the movie-goer’s seat moving in synchronization with the onscreen action, immersing the customer into the movie.
“I’m going to want until the honeymoon period with this expansion is over and the excitement dies down,” he said.
“I never thought that I’d need more than 12 screens. But if we can handle the parking issue, I may put in even more. It’s amazing how popular movies are if you can run enough show times.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.