Done deal: Theatre coming to Greenville

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's been a long time coming, but it will only take a short time to get here.

A new eight-screen, state-of-the-art movie theatre is scheduled to open in Greenville by mid-summer at the latest, according to Marty Felts, president of NAOS Entertainment of Mobile.

The new theatre will locate beside Wal-Mart, with road access from both the SuperCenter and Cahaba Rd., and represents a $6 million investment into Greenville, said Felts.

For Mayor Dexter McLendon - who's long searched out opportunities to bring a movie theatre back to Camellia City - the news was exciting and McLendon said the deal is yet another step forward in the growth of Greenville.

&#8220This has been going on for me for seven years,” said McLendon. &#8220But it has been a dream ever since I've been on the council. As a leader in the community you need to listen to the citizens and what they want. And I've been hearing since 1988 that the people want a movie theatre. Now they're not only getting a movie theatre, they're getting an entertainment center next to none. It's going to be better than anything you'll see around this part of the state. It's a big day for us and a big day for me because of how long we've been working on this.”

The Greenville theatre will be NAOS Entertainment's first such construction in the state. At least three of the theatres will seat at least 200 people, said Felts, and video screens will replace traditional wall menus behind the concession stands.

&#8220This is our first project and this will be our flagship theatre,” said Felts. &#8220Instead of building a knock-off building, we're putting everything into this construction. All the menu boards for concessions and all the menu boards for the box office will be LCD monitors. We'll have the flexibility to do advertising for the city and for local businesses in the lobbies and in the hallways.”

The theatres themselves will feature stadium seating, said Felts, and the screens will be wide for maximum viewing pleasure. During the summer months, Felts said the staff would increase to approximately 30 employees, comprised of full and part-time workers. Felts said he expected ticket prices to be less than that of Montgomery's theatres - long the destination of movie lovers from Greenville - where tickets cost an average of $8 for evening shows.

&#8220I couldn't say how muchŠmaybe a $1, maybe 50 cents, but they will be less,” he said.

Patrons of the theatre can also expect a welcoming, safe atmosphere, said Felts, with a well-lighted parking lot patrolled on the weekends by security retained at the company's expense.

&#8220There is not only a standard for the type of employee we have, but a standard for the type of customer we have also,” he said. &#8220We will offer a safe environment.”

Felts, who has worked as a consultant for Hollywood Theatres and Rave Theatres, said the company was looking into several markets to build their first facility when he heard through an indirect source that Greenville was actively seeking a movie theatre.

&#8220It's kind of one of those deals where if the mayor hadn't been looking, we wouldn't have known about Greenville,” said Felts. &#8220Because of what we're able to do together and what the mayor is able to do for us, Greenville jumped to the top of the list.”

McLendon said he was now pleased that several other movie theatre deals - one which involved a theatre occupying the old Wal-Mart building - fell through.

&#8220We went from getting something we would be okay with to getting the Taj Mahal,” said McLendon.

Robert Bishop, who is developing the property on Willow Lane, agreed with McLendon's assessment.

&#8220This (theatre) is going to help jump start development,” said Bishop. &#8220This will be like a jewel and be so attractive it will be like having an anchor store.”