Wilder to get 20-screen theater

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILDER — Regal Cinemas Inc. announced Monday it will build the first 20-screen, first-run motion picture theater in Northern Kentucky, next to the Town & Country Soccer Center at I-275 and Ky. 9.

The theater is the latest phase in a multimillion-dollar sports and retail complex being developed by builder John Toebben of Fort Wright. The complex includes indoor and outdoor soccer, with plans for restaurants and a hotel.

It is also the first major competition for Showcase Cinemas, operated by National Amusements, the theater chain that rings Greater Cincinnati. Showcase operates one theater in Erlanger and a new 18-screen complex in Springdale, which was the first to offer stadium-style seating.

Wilder Mayor Jerry Williams, who has been a propo nent of the development since plans were introduced nearly two years ago, said he was surprised at the news.

“I knew it was getting close, and I had contact recently with Mr. Toebben, who said it looked like it would happen, but we hadn't heard the deal was completed,” the mayor said Monday.

Attempts to reach Mr. Toebben were unsuccessful Monday, and calls to Phil Zacheretti, Regal's senior vice president of marketing, at the company's Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters were not returned.

The Regal press release said the company had executed a lease with Town & Country to build the 80,770-square-foot complex, by far the largest multi-cinema facility in Northern Kentucky and one of the largest in Greater Cincinnati.

Regal said in the release that it expected to have the theater open by next fall. This would be the third Regal theater in Kentucky, with a 10-screen discount theater operating next to Turfway Park in Florence and a 16-screen theater under construction in Lexington.

“Obviously, we're very pleased with the news,” Mr. Williams said. “What a difference this all makes. We've seen tremendous growth in just the last few years.”

City officials broke ground Sunday for a new government center on Ky. 9. Wilder is the new home of Castellini Produce, which had to move from its Cincinnati site to make way for the new Bengals stadium. And two other companies have moved into the industrial park near the Licking River.

A theater in Wilder also would be expected to attract customers from suburbs east of Cincinnati in Hamilton and Clermont counties, which can reach Wilder in minutes on I-275.

The new theater will appar ently be open for business ahead of a 20-screen facility planned for the Newport on the Levee entertainment complex next to the Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium.

Steiner and Associates, the Columbus, Ohio-based development company that is building the aquarium, a 3-D IMAX theater and Newport on the Levee, has indicated a multi-screen theater will be one of the anchors of the entertainment com plex. But Steiner has not identified the cinema company that would build the theater, or when work on the complex might begin.

A spokesman for Steiner said the general rule is not to build a large multi-screen theater within five miles of a similar facility because of possible competition for first-run films.

Since the Wilder theater would be over six miles from Newport on the Levee, there would be no conflict other than competition for the customers in the demographic area.

The Regal Cinema theater will feature plush stadium seating in all auditoriums, which is considered state of the art in today's theaters. Audiences will sit in high-back seats with retractable cup-holder armrests, and each auditorium will have wall-to-wall screens.

Regal bills itself as the largest motion picture exhibitor, operating 3,563 screens at 404 locations in 30 states.

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