The second-run theater Picture Show at Citadel Crossing has always been a go-to spot for movie lovers seeking a film on the cheap, but it hasn't always been the best experience, ambiance-wise. Now, a $400,000 renovation completed July 15 — adding all digital projectors, more speakers, better amps, better sound processors, new wider seating with higher backs and retractable armrests, and 3D capabilities — aims to change all that.
"What prompted us to make the transition is, just the opportunity to have a much higher presentation with digital projection than what we get from 35mm prints," says Picture Show Entertainment CEO and Colorado Springs resident Jeff Stedman. (We first spoke with Stedman in 2004; he's since expanded into five more states.) "Being a second-run theater, we get the 35mm prints after they’ve played in the first-run theater, and often times those print qualities aren’t as good as what they have when they’re brand-new. So by being able to convert to digital, our presentation is pristine all the time now."
(For an idea of where the film world is headed, here's a Variety story released Monday on century-long competitors Technicolor and Deluxe striking a subcontracting agreement to print and distribute for each other.)
Swapping out the theater's eight film projectors for digital took roughly a week, while other cosmetic improvements, new carpeting and flooring, are ongoing over the next month. In a larger sense, all these upgrades — which will nudge standard ticket prices up a quarter, with an additional $1.75 for 3D — are just an example of what's happening shopping-center-wide, says Stedman.
"I think what’s really going to help out, not only the enhancements that we’ve made, is just what’s going on in the center. The center has needed new life in there, and now with Lowe’s under construction, and Office Depot moving into the center, and other large anchor tenants in discussion with the landlord, the center is going to be 100 percent occupied, I would expect, over the next year," he says. "Just a much more vibrant retail corridor than it has been over the last few years. Where we have felt like we had been the ones drawing all the traffic to the center, now I think we’re gonna have a lot of other anchors helping out and drawing people to the center."
And while things are good now, with business "up quite a bit," Stedman says the company was thinking of pulling out of its South Academy Boulevard location at one point. (Here's our Pam Zubeck in 2007, with the Gazette at the time.)
"We were. We talked about it at the City Council meeting, when they were talking about approving the Lowe’s, that if they didn’t approve the Lowe’s we were not gonna renew our options on the lease, and we would’ve vacated the space," he says. "[Now, with] all the other upgrades the landlord is doing to the center, it’s gonna be an extremely nice center."