It’s showtime on the Far East Side!
Photos and story by: Ricky J. Carrasco
On Wednesday, workers were still putting on the finishing touches on El Paso’s newest movie theater, Cinemark East Montana. The tech people were playing movies and trailers to ensure the picture and sound were perfect. Crews were touching up the building and landscaping to be as clean and presentable as possible. The concessions employees were performing practice runs and polishing up the countertops and every available surface.
This will be El Paso’s 4th Cinemark, but as Jennifer Frederick, marketing manager stated, they recognized that the area east of the Loop on Montana Street is booming. “It’s a good area of El Paso, lots of new housing. TinselTown Theater is pretty close by, but this area needed an entertainment spot and we wanted to be the first to come service the community.”
The 14 auditorium, 2,388 seat theater is part of the company’s “Next-Gen” concept that aims to bring the newest in digital entertainment in all their theaters. All screens are floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, all digital sound throughout the theater and 7 of the 14 theaters are 3-D capable. The flagship auditorium is the XD: Extreme Digital Cinema room, which features their biggest seating capacity, clearest image and 20,000 watts of sound pouring out of more than 40 speakers from the four walls and ceiling. On opening night, the theater will be showing the “Carrie” remake that opens this week nationwide.
Also new to El Paso is the concession options. Cinemark East Montana features a “cafeteria” style counter where patrons can pick and choose from the standard fare like popcorn and nachos, but patrons will also have options like pizza, pretzel bites and self-serve candy, soft drinks and slush drinks. There will also be a front café area that will be serving Starbucks coffee, beer, wine and even frozen margaritas and daiquiris!
Inside the theater, the seats are all faux leather, which makes them easier to clean and upkeep. All armrests go up and have some movement to be as comfortable as possible. Frederick also wanted to tout the Cinemark mobile App, where customers can look up movie times and purchase tickets. More innovative is the “CineMode” feature that, when activated during a movie, automatically dims your cell phone’s screen and lowers the volume. Patrons who use the “CineMode” app during a movie will be eligible to receive coupons for in-theater use. She also promised that there will be ushers checking for cell phone users during movie running time, as well as checking for underage drinking.
Heath Poe, the theater’s general manager, stated that the business is currently employing 75 people. When asked why the Cinemark company would open another theater in El Paso, Poe’s answer was direct and to the point. “Every theater we’ve opened has exceeded our expectations.” Though Poe has only lived in El Paso for the last few months, he sees the potential in our area. “The market is growing, there are new homes everywhere. You have the military just down the street. You have explosive growth across the border. There’s potential for growth for any business. Not recognizing all the factors that make this area great would be detrimental for business.”
Both Poe and Frederick also expressed interest in serving the area’s regional interests. For example, if there is enough interest in movies like “Instructions Not Included” which is a very bilingual-language movie, then that will be passed down to the corporate level. If people attend that kind of movie, then certainly more will be brought in the future.
Cinemark East Montana will host their grand opening to the public this Friday, October 18th. Prices range from $7 matinee times (before 6pm) to $12 for XD Cinema on Fridays and Saturdays. Check local listings.