Burbank theaters are a big draw

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The city where they make the movies is also the place where the people come to see them — in droves.

Downtown Burbank’s collection of 30 AMC screens forms one of the highest-grossing cineplexes in the country, according to corporate officials.

Justin Scott, a spokesman for Kansas City, Mo.-based AMC, said Rentrak Corp. — a firm that compiles box-office revenue figures for theaters throughout the country — consistently ranks Burbank’s AMC screens among the top three in the nation.

Rentrak officials declined to comment, and Scott declined to offer details on sales receipts or annual visitors.

The Burbank screens include the AMC Burbank 16 at the Burbank Collection, a pedestrian mall downtown, as well as the AMC 8 and AMC 6 inside the nearby Burbank Town Center shopping complex. The Burbank 16 is clearly the showplace, with an IMAX auditorium, 12 screens capable of showing 3-D films and a spacious lobby with a concession operation larger than many fast-food restaurants.

“We have stayed relevant to our guests, our community and our industry by ensuring our theater facilities are well-kept and on the cutting edge of technology,” Scott said in an email.

Silvia Andersen said she goes to the Burbank 16 at least once a month.

“It’s clean. It has tiered seating, and it’s up to date,” Andersen said. “The theater has great sound.”

The sheer number of theaters is one reason Burbank’s AMC theaters rate so high, Paul Dergarabedian of entertainment website Hollywood.com said.

“It certainly doesn’t hurt being an industry town,” Dergarabedian said, referring to the presence in Burbank of Warner Bros. Studios, Walt Disney Co. and the hundreds of smaller production and post-production firms in the city.

But to generate the kind of foot traffic that the AMC theaters net, clearly you have to be a destination, he added.

“Sometimes people will drive an extra mile to get a better theater experience,” Dergarabedian said.

Other top-grossing theaters, according to AMC officials and Utah-based entertainment firm Larry H. Miller Group, include the AMC Empire 25 near Times Square in Manhattan and the 17-screen Megaplex Theatres at Jordan Commons in Sandy, Utah, outside Salt Lake City.

The downtown Burbank screens are a significant source of tax revenue for the city and drive the business of nearby restaurants and shops, said May Hamzoian, Burbank’s economic development manager.

The Burbank 16 is the dominant force in the Village District, which includes the downtown core from Magnolia Boulevard to Olive Avenue, but does not include the Burbank Town Center. The district generated more than $1.6 million in tax revenue for the city in 2010, although the city does not provide revenue by specific stores or companies.

Gary Olson, executive director for Burbank Chamber of Commerce, said the theaters are a key to downtown’s success since most moviegoers also dine and shop nearby.

“The impact is enormous,” he said.
 
 

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