KEDB extends relationship with Frank Theatres

Hank Hayes • Apr 9, 2013 at 8:02 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Economic Development Board voted Tuesday to extend its working relationship with a Florida-based entertainment firm planning to reopen the Kingsport Town Center’s movie facilities next month and eventually build an IMAX theater on the property.

Frank Theatres President and CEO Bruce Frank told the Times-News on Monday that May 17 is the target date for reopening the movie facilities.

Marquee Cinemas left the Kingsport Town Center earlier this year with plans to build a new, free-standing 12-screen theater behind the Kmart Supercenter off Stone Drive.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about Kingsport not having a movie theater,” KEDB Vice Chairman Bill Dudney told the board. “By May 17, which is five weeks away, (Frank Theatres) will be reopening with 10 movie screens. ... Hopefully, we’ll be back in the movie business in short order.”

A Frank Theatres official, Dudney pointed out, has told Kingsport officials the firm holds the rights to the IMAX and insists it’s coming to the Kingsport Town Center location.

KEDB legal counsel Gorman Waddell concurred by saying: “What I heard in my meeting with the Frank people is that they have made substantial progress. They have invested a lot of money in the IMAX project.”

KEDB has approved an $800,000 incentive package to Frank Theatres if it brings an IMAX to Kingsport. The extension approved by the board calls for revisiting the relationship with Frank Theatres at the end of September.

KEDB could ask Frank Theatres to be breaking ground or be under construction by Sept. 30, Dudney added.

KEDB members looked at a conceptual design for the project, which included the 85-foot tall IMAX theater that would seat up to 400 people.

Other project features include a sports-themed restaurant with stadium-type seating, 18 bowling lanes and four 3-D screens in the main movie facility, KEDB members were told.

“We feel like they have met the terms dictated by this board to achieve substantial progress and are confident they are going to perform,” Dudney said of Frank Theatres. “... We feel like this is Kingsport’s best chance to have an IMAX movie theater, something to attract outside visitors, and that’s what it is all about, in bringing people to Kingsport to spend those discretionary entertainment dollars.”

For more about Frank Theatres go to http://www.franktheatres.com.

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