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Extreme tech and summer blockbusters: Cinemark Next Gen movie theater opens Thursday at Mall St. Matthews

by Melissa Chipman

The lobby at the new Cinemark theaters.

After more than eight months of construction, 10 new digital movie auditoriums are opening tomorrow at the Cinemark Mall St. Matthews just in time for the premier of the new “Star Trek” movie.

Bryan Jeffries, marketing director at Cinemark Holdings, Inc., said that originally the theatre planned to open Friday, but when the opening for “Star Trek” got shifted to Thursday, the theater scrambled to accommodate it.

By the looks of things on Tuesday night’s sneak peak soft opening, the theater is more than ready for the summer rush.

When I arrived for the 4:30 p.m. behind-the-scenes tour, no fewer than six employees were outside polishing windows. In the lobby before the 7 p.m. shows, a kernel of popcorn didn’t last more than 10 seconds on the floor before someone came along to sweep it up.

Opening the Cinemark Mall St. Matthews just in time for the summer blockbuster season isn’t coincidental. “It gives us the best chance to show off our theater with the best product on the screen,” says Jeffries.

Cinemark’s Next Gen theaters are on the cutting edge of technology. Each auditorium features wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screens, 7.1 digital surround sound, 3-D digital projectors and stadium seating.

(Cinemark demolished a long-vacant Dillard’s Department Store to make way for the new theater.)

The Mall St. Matthews location features one of only 71 “XD” (“Extreme Digital”) auditoriums worldwide. “XD” auditoriums offer an even larger screen and an upgraded JBL sound system.

The box office is smaller than in most theaters. Patrons can purchase tickets via kiosks both inside and out, or they can order tickets on-line and retrieve them via the kiosks.

The Cinemark’s stone, steel and stucco exterior. The cinemas replace an abandoned Dillard’s Dept. Store.

The lobby features a bar, which will have wine, beer and frozen cocktails once the liquor license is approved. Because of the location in the mall building, there is no entrance from within the mall proper.

When Dillard’s vacated the space, Forever 21 took over the mall-facing, two-story section of it, and General Growth Properties– the mall’s developer– contacted Cinemark regarding the remaining space. While Cinemark does scout potential locations, most of their new business comes to them, says Jeffries.

Cinemark, USA is headquartered in Plano, Texas and currently operates 465 theaters, including 167 theaters in Latin America. This is the eighth Cinemark location in Kentucky, and the second in Louisville.

Upcoming special events include: weekly midnight movies,  MET Opera on Wednesdays and Saturdays, “Classic Film Wednesdays” (first up: “Cleopatra”), and “Discount Tuesdays” (all non-”XD” shows are $6 all day).

Jefferies says that while there is no plan in place as of yet to offer regular “Sensory Friendly” events for children with special needs, the theater looks forward to fielding and meeting requests for such showings.

The theater has a party room available to rent.

Corporate events can be accommodated both in the party room and in reserved auditoriums.

“Star Trek: Into Darkness,” if you’re wondering, gets two thumbs up from this very casual “Star Trek” fan.

Fun, funny, fast-paced and clever. And every movie is better with a little Benedict Cumberbatch. Last night’s showing was in the “XD” theater, and “Star Trek” is exactly the kind of movie that auditorium was built for, says Jeffries. Upcoming mega-blockbusters that will be featured in “XD” include “Superman: Man of Steel” and “Fast and Furious 6.”

The first public showing of “Star Trek” will be Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

FYI, Cinemark Tinseltown offers fantastic concession discount coupons if you sign up for their email list. Each week, you receive a different offer– usually of the “buy X and get Y free” variety. Mall St. Matthews will likely follow suit soon, so keep your eye on the website.

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