Jerry Thorn installs seats in one of the Frank Theatres auditoriums in the Kingsport Town Center last week. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — Hold your popcorn, folks. There’s going to be a slight delay.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Frank Theatres will not be re-opening three screens at the Kingsport Town Center on Thursday as previously announced, but rather all 10 screens will come online Aug. 9 at the theater’s grand opening.
Tara Nesseralla, vice president of sales and marketing for Frank Entertainment, said in an email that the delay was caused by the lenses for the digital projectors. She said the lenses were manufactured wrong and new ones had to be made.
“We ran into some changes ... and we would prefer to open the 10 screens at the same time. We wanted to give our guests the most enjoyable, clearest presentation,” she said.
Nesseralla explained the lenses are manufactured individually according to the size of the screen and distance to the screen. A Frank Theatres’ representative overseeing the work at the Kingsport Town Center said that when the lenses were installed on Saturday the picture projected on the screen was out of focus.
The Sony 4K digital projection systems have been on site for nearly three months, but they were only recently unpackaged and installed in the projector rooms for each auditorium.
Frank Theatres of Jupiter, Fla., has been planning to renovate and reopen the theater in the mall since early February, when 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. Last week, Frank Theatres placed “Coming Soon” signs on the side of the building and over the old theater sign along Fort Henry Drive,
At that time, crews began in earnest on the renovation of the building, working 10 to 16 hour days over the past week — installing new seats, hanging new curtains and screens, performing electrical work and tests and building 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.
According to a Frank’s representative on site, some last-minute work includes additional plumbing for the ice machine and rewiring the concession area to 220 voltage to accommodate the new popcorn machine. Everything but the ice machine has yet to arrive, and it should be on site this week.
When work wraps up and the theaters open on Aug. 9, 10 auditoriums will be open for the public. Showing will be "The Wolverine," "Smurfs 2," "2 Guns," "Planes," "Elysium," "We’re the Millers," "Percy Jackson 2," "Despicable Me 2," "Grown Ups 2" and "The Conjuring."
Initially, Frank Theatres said six of the auditoriums would be 3-D, but on Monday a company representative said the number of 3-D screens is now four. In addition, the 11th auditorium currently in the building will not re-open, as the company plans to re-purpose this space into a kitchen area during the expansion project coming later this year.
Frank Theatres held three hiring sessions over the weekend — two on Saturday and another on Sunday. About 185 people came out to apply for a job. One-on-one interviews were being held this week. 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.
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. Patrons can purchase tickets online at Franktheatres.com or at Movietickets.com, but not at Fandango.com (though the site will list the movie times for the new theater).
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.