Jerry Thorn installs seats in one of the Frank Theatres auditoriums in the Kingsport Town Center. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — It’s been a long six months.
But the wait will soon be over as Frank Theatres plans to re-open the theater in the Kingsport Town Center on Aug. 1.
“We are opening three auditoriums as a first stage of the reopening of the theater,” said Tara Nesseralla, vice president of sales and marketing for Frank Entertainment.
Bruce Frank, president and CEO of Frank Entertainment, said the remaining seven screens would come online Aug. 9 in time for the theater’s grand opening.
Frank Theatres of Jupiter, Fla., has been planning to renovate and reopen the theater in the mall since early February after Marquee Cinemas moved out to build a new, freestanding theater behind the Kmart Super Center off Stone Drive.
During the past six months, there’s been little movement on the renovation with the opening date pushed back several times, mainly due to the new theater chairs not being ready and lately due to the owners of the mall securing additional financing for the redevelopment of the property.
On Monday, Frank Theatres hung “Coming Soon” signs on the side of the building and over the old theater sign along Fort Henry Drive. Permanent signs will likely go up in about two months.
While the new projectors for the theater came in several months ago, Frank Theatres had been waiting on the new seats to arrive — a process that normally takes around three months to complete.
Earlier this week, the equipment started rolling in — the curtains arrived on Monday with the concession counters and the first wave of seats later in the week. By Friday, a Frank representative overseeing the work at the mall said all of the seats had arrived and were being installed; the new carpet and screens were in; and only a couple of ice machines had yet to arrive.
Crews have been working 10 to 16 hours days this week, installing seats, performing electrical work and tests and installing the new concession stand. The last of the major work will be to remove all the shipping material from the hallways and lay the new carpet.
Moviegoers will be able to purchase tickets from freestanding, ATM-style devices outside the theater or — if you only have cash — at the concession booth itself.
Frank Theatres will hold two hiring sessions on Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. for prospective employees. The interviews will be done first as a group then on an individual basis. The company hopes to hire 30 to 35 people for the initial re-opening, but ultimately, when the entire expansion takes place, at least 100 employees will be needed, Nesseralla said.
In addition to renovating the existing theater site, Frank Theatres plans to expand into the parking lot with a 40,000-square-foot, two-story addition. The addition would house a Red Brick Grille restaurant, 40-game arcade, 20 lanes of bowling and the centerpiece of it all — an 85-foot-tall IMAX theater that seats up to 400 people.
The company is estimating the expansion will be completed in the third quarter of 2014.