Time To Celebrate Cinema

June 24, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Mount Everest and Harry Potter will help raise some very large curtains on the city’s newest movie complex this week, as Celebration! Cinema opens its doors to the public Nov. 16.

After three years on the drawing board, Jack Loeks Theatres Inc. is unwrapping its new $25 million megaplex this week, which features the region’s first IMAX theater, at Knapp’s Corner at the East Beltline and Knapp Street NE.

“It gives me so much pleasure to bring the very newest and best in theatrical motion picture exhibition here to my hometown,” said John Loeks, CEO of Celebration! Cinema and Jack Loeks Theatres.

“It’s a tradition my father began here in 1944 and our family is proud to take the next step in offering the finest big-screen movie experience as good or better than anywhere in the world,” he added.

Celebration! Cinema is big, spanning 158,000 square feet from corner to corner. It has 17 35mm-film auditoriums that seat 3,800 customers. The megaplex has a 17,000-square-foot lobby with three European-style concession stands designed by a British firm, and a 60-foot glass beacon at the main entrance that doubles as an entertainment balcony. And Theater 1 houses the region’s widest 35mm screen at 60 feet, which tops the 45-footer at Studio 28, another Loeks Theatre.

The IMAX screen stands 52 feet high and 70 feet wide in a theater that seats 300. The picture image is 10 times larger than the standard 35mm-film stock, and is supported by a six-channel, 10,000-watt, digital surround-sound system. IMAX, by the way, is an acronym for Image Maximum.

“Everest,” which chronicles a daring climb up North America’s highest peak and is the most successful IMAX film of all time, opens the theater. The long awaited “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” headlines the opening of the 35mm auditoriums.

Celebration! Cinema opened unofficially last Saturday with a sold-out, invitation-only screening of “Everest,” an event that kicked off a fundraiser for Easter Seals. Marketing Manager Karen Kacynski told the Business Journal that Easter Seals and National City Bank teamed up to underwrite the showing of the film and co-hosted last weekend’s opening gala.

“A portion of every film ticket sold for Everest is going to Easter Seals,” she said of the film’s run at Celebration! Cinema.

Another opening-night gala, starring the Harry Potter film, takes place on Friday night. Proceeds from the special showing will go to DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan.

“The event is sold out,” said Kacynski. “We basically sold it out almost before we had the invitations out.”

Kacynski did say that retail space is still available at Celebration! Cinema. The megaplex was built with 36,000 square feet set aside for interested retailers. Matt Williams of Grubb & Ellis/Paramount Properties is the theater’s leasing agent. Kacynski added that about 120 jobs will be created by the megaplex.

C.D. Barnes Associates Inc. managed the construction project. Post Associates Inc. designed the complex and Williams & Works Inc. did the engineering for the property.

Celebration! Cinema will anchor the new Celebration! Village, a mixed-use development that offers 424,000 square feet of space for shops and offices in a new urbanism setting on 40 acres of land at Knapp’s Corner.

The Knapp’s Corner Celebration! Cinema is the fourth such complex opened by Loeks in Michigan. Loeks also owns and operates theaters in Lansing, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Mt. Pleasant, Muskegon and Kalamazoo.

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