Tag Archives: movie theater

Will Toby Keith Fans Mix With Multiplex Mexicans?

Toby Keith / AmStar 14
Future location of Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill and the AmStar 14 (Photo: Robert Wilonsky for Unfair Park)

The multiplex formerly known as AMC’s The Grand 24 will be born again as a movie theater, according to Robert Wilonsky at Unfair Park. AMC Theatres did not renew their lease on the property, which expired about a year ago. Approximately half the property will become a new location for the franchise operation known as Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, which promises “Live Music, Whiskey Girls, Beer in Mason Jars.” And the other half is being transformed into the AmStar 14, a multiplex theater that will be operated by a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Southern Theatres.

As it happens, a number of multiplexes owned by Southern Theatres are named “The Grand,” or variations thereof. Southern Theatres operates theaters in 19 locations with 278 screens in nine states. If the new AmStar 14 falls in line with the others, it will be all first-run and will offer “21 Plus” screenings and a customer loyalty program. The company does not offer refunds or exchanges. Their conduct policy prohibits “phone calls, texting, or emailing during the film.” (We’ll see how that’s enforced, if at all.)

AMC's The Grand 24
AMC's The Grand 24

At the time of its closure, AMC’s The Grand 24 was the closest theater to where I lived, and so I visited regularly over a period of three to four years. As I wrote at the time: “Patronage really picks up mid- to late-evening on the weekends, as dating couples, families, and groups of friends flock to the concession stand, dropping substantial bucks, and filling the auditoriums.” Considering that the patrons were 90% Latino, from my observation, “Nearby families will lose the convenience of close proximity and have to travel a few miles further, to Cinemark 17 or 10 miles further, to North Park, where they can be assimilated into the Caucasian Borg. And we lose a decent place to watch movies.” So, the prospect of a reconstructed multiplex, featuring state-of-the-art facilities, is very good news for the neighborhood.

And it should provide another marvelous opportunity for two diverse cultural groups to mix and mingle in the parking lot. Toby Keith is proud of his patriotism, and so are his fans, and I’m sure they will enjoy seeing a tidal wave of Mexicans, and Central and South Americans pouring in to enjoy the latest that Hollywood has to offer at the multiplex.

Likewise, the neighborhood teens, who liked to dress up and flirt in the hallways at the old Grand 24, will no doubt enjoy seeing the equally well-dressed country music fans sashay into a bar & grill. Perhaps the over-21 movie crowd will stop in for some “cheese freedom fries” and listen to Toby Keith sing “American Ride” or his new single, “Made in America.”

This should be interesting.

First Impressions: Highland Park Village Theatre

Highland Park Village Theatre

Quick Glance: Renovated historic venue. Re-opened in early 2011. Independently-owned and operated. Aimed at families; only G, PG, or PG-13 rated movies are shown.

Neighborhood: Highland Park Village, an upscale outdoor shopping mall, at the SW corner of Mockingbird Lane and Preston Road in Highland Park.

Parking: Free. Adjacent spaces are hard to come by on Saturday afternoon. Uncovered parking lot on North side of Mockingbird is a short walk away and spaces are freely available.

Highland Park Village Theatre, Highland Park, TXMain Lobby: Dark wood predominates, in a lovely, well-appointed, though small, space. Ticket-buying stations to the right, stairs and escalator to the left.

Buying Tickets: Two ticket-buying kiosks; credit cards only. Cash users can buy tickets at concession stand upstairs. Advance tickets available for purchase via website, which can then be printed at kiosks.

Ticket Prices: $11.75 adults, $8.50 children/seniors/students. $8.00 matinee (before 5:00 p.m.).

Concession Stand: Prices in line with multiplexes; sample: $7.50 large popcorn, $5.75 small popcorn, $6.00 individual pizza. Also: $7.00 panini.

Waiting Area: Makes good use of small space, with well-cushioned seats available, as well as a lounge with alcohol available for purchase. Drinks can be taken into auditoriums. Ticket-taking stand, with attendant to direct traffic.

Auditorium / Seats: Wonderful. Visited Auditorium #2. Screen appeared to be slightly curved. Divided by walkway into two sections. Lower area has three rows with a total of 37 seats. Upper section has five rows, first four with 11 seats each. Good spacing between rows. Reclining, rocker, high-backed seats in upper section are very comfortable.

Pre-Show: 15 minutes. Rotating slides and short infomercials advertising local businesses; movie trivia. Trailers for current and coming attractions.

Sound / Projection: Excellent. Booming and loud audio system. Digital projection. No complaints.

Other Notes: Temperature cooled considerably by air-conditioning; may be too cool for some patrons, but very welcome on a 100-degree plus afternoon. Facilities available, but not seen: Auditorium #1, two private screening rooms, adjacent restaurant.

Website: www.hpvillagetheatre.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HPVillagetheatr

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Highland-Park-Village-Theatre/

Movie Seen: ‘Colombiana.’
Date of Visit: Saturday, August 27, 2011.
Screening Time: 3:40 p.m.