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Renovated theater may be ready by Fourth of July

Lakes area moviegoers may be wearing 3-D glasses and sitting in stadium seats by the Fourth of July.

Updated plans for a $4 million to $4.5 million renovation of the Movies 10 theater in Baxter are scheduled to go before the Baxter City Council Tuesday.

Steve Mann, president of Bloomington-based Mann Theatres, said the rebuild — particularly of the lobby area — creates the necessity for the theater to close for four to six weeks. The closure is expected after Easter. Mann said he hopes the theater will be closed no more than five weeks, reopening in mid-May.

The entire renovation is planned in three parts. First up is the new lobby, which will change how people access the theater. Phase two will renovate the existing auditoriums into stadium seating. Phase three is the expansion, adding two auditoriums to the west of the existing building. State-of-the-art projection systems and new screens are part of the update.

Expectations are to renovate the auditoriums two at a time so the theater will be able to remain open and serve moviegoers during renovations.

Work on the expansion may begin as early as April. With the entire complex completed by the Fourth of July weekend. At least two of the screens will be 3-D. The renovated theater will have new screens and move from 35 mm film to digital for better picture and sound quality.

“When we are done, it’s going to be a brand new theater,” Mann said.

Mann attended last week’s planning and zoning commission meeting in Baxter and said he anticipates the plan will gain the city council’s approval.

While the theater renderings going before the council show Lakeland Theatre as the new name, Mann said that is still up in the air. But the theater will have a new name.

Major changes are also in store for concessions. The food and snack area will move from the back wall of the lobby area to the left of the new entrance. Mann said changes include new products and self-serve beverages along with Icee frozen carbonated drinks. Pizza and hot dogs will be added to the mix. And Mann Theatres is testing other products to include such as chicken fingers.

The theater employs 20 to 25 and expects to add staff with the renovation. Mann said it’s hard to say how much more traffic the movie theater will draw with this update but a minimum of 25 percent increase is anticipated.

So are the prices going up with the renovated theater? Mann said the intention right now is not to increase admission prices. Although, he noted, the 3-D movies do cost more, typically about $2.50 more than the regular ticket prices. The 3-D movie prices aren’t locked in yet, Mann said.

The theater is adding a party room, which will be available for rent.

Mann has been working on a renovation proposal for years. One of the big questions was whether a new theater would be constructed or the existing building improved. Mann Theatres has 11 locations in Minnesota and 87 movie screens. The company was founded in 1935.

A benefit with the mild winter is an early beginning to construction plans, Mann said. Local subcontractors will be employed with the project.

Mann said: “You’ll be amazed at what it looks like when it’s done.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter @Dispatchbizbuzz.

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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