Cinemark debuts new theater in Playa Vista

Texas theater chain Cinemark Holdings Inc. is planting a flag in Playa Vista, opening a state-of-the art luxury theater in the heart of Silicon Beach.

Cinemark Playa Vista, a 9-screen auditorium opening Thursday, is one of the most technologically advanced theaters Cinemark has opened to date.

It's also one of several new theaters the Plano, Texas, company plans to open in Southern California in the next year.

Cinemark, which has 70 theaters and 835 screens in California, is opening a 13-screen operation in Carson, a 14-screen in Downey and a 12-screen in the Palm Springs area in the next year.

"Surprisingly, it's one of the underserved markets in the country," Tim Warner, chief executive of Cinemark Holdings, said about Southern California.

Warner said the Playa Vista coastal community was ideal to support an upscale theater. "It's a great location," he said. "That's what's driving it."

The new theater is housed in the $260-million project called Runway at Playa Vista that is designed to be the commercial and social heart of the planned community. The project has been under construction for more than a decade on land once controlled by aviation mogul Howard Hughes south of Marina del Rey.

The nation's third-largest theater chain invested up to $9 million in the multiplex, which includes a 450-seat auditorium known as XD with a giant 70-feet wide screen and a sound system that has more than 60 speakers.

All ticketing is digital, as are display boards and posters that can be programmed to show coming attractions, local weather and even traffic.

The theater is equipped with a satellite system designed for presenting movie premieres and broadcasting special corporate events, including those of nearby tech companies such as Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc.

"It really demonstrates all the technologies that we're putting in theaters right now," Warner said. "It's one of the highest tech theaters we've ever built."

The theater also will offer a reserve level "VIP experience." For an extra $5, patrons can sit in a reserved area that includes a full bar and lounge serving gourmet foods and drinks. Regular adult evening ticket prices are $13.50 to $14.50.

Rivals such as AMC Entertainment, which offers a dine-in-theater in Marina del Rey, also have been expanding their so-called premium amenities to lure more customers to the multiplex at a time when theaters are facing long-term attendance declines.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

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