Premiere Cinemas reinvests in its existing locations while building a new
family entertainment center to meet market demands.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Premiere Cinemas founder Gary Moore’s love for movies began at just 12 years old when he got a job at the local theater to run the projection booth. Today, he is the owner of one of America’s largest independent cinema companies that specializes in filling the market niche for entertainment.
“Premiere has gone from small mom-and-pop markets to large metropolitan cities, bringing entertainment to communities that have none at all,” Special Operations Director Martin Watson says. “In smaller markets, for example, we have boutique movie theaters with six or seven auditoriums while other, larger communities are home to 14 or 17 screen multiplexes. Premiere also works with IMAX, the top PLF company in the world that brings larger-than-life pictures to a five-story screen. Keeping up with the changing market dynamics was the inspiration for our new Family Entertainment Center (FEC) concept that combines the movie-going experience with bowling, arcades and full-service bars and restaurants.”
Premiere Cinemas operates 26 locations with three more opening by the end of the year in six states. The company continues to expand, innovate and incorporate state-of-the-art technology in its never-ending pursuit to make going to the movies more enjoyable for guests.
“The word ‘customer’ is not in our vocabulary as moviegoers are our guests,” Watson notes. “We make sure when they walk into the theater it’s a warm and inviting experience similar to the experience you expect when visiting friends and family.”
To maintain its family-like atmosphere, Premiere Cinemas treats its employees as such. For example, Vice President Joel Davis has merged his love for travel into the company by taking theater managers on all-expense-paid cruises to the Bahamas or the Caribbean. The company has also sponsored two company-wide cruises over the past decade.
Premiere Cinemas also has an incentive program once a year where theater directors compete for a trip to CinemaCon, the largest exhibitor trade show in the world that celebrates the movie-going experience in Las Vegas.
A majority of Premiere Cinemas’ management team comes from internal promotions. Watson, for example, has been with the company for 18 years, working his way up from an usher in high school and a theater director while attending college.
Meeting Market Demands
To keep up with industry standards, Premiere Cinemas retrofitted four of its locations this year to include luxury recliner seating and reserved seating capabilities. The company also revamped the concession stand area and eliminated box offices because of its move to reservation only seating.
“We have installed ticketing kiosks and have crew members in that area ready to help guests find their way and get them to their seats quicker,” Watson explains. “We changed the concession model to feature self-serve popcorn dispensers where guests can fill up and butter their own popcorn and then head to our brand new touchscreen Coca-Cola machines to create any soda combination they desire and enjoy unlimited refills.”
Premiere Cinemas plans to continue upgrading several of its existing locations this year. “It’s all about making sure you are giving people in the community what they want and right now, that’s recliner seating,” Watson adds. “When we put in new luxury recliners at the stores, it will change those markets dramatically.”
In keeping with its goal of giving the community what it wants, Premiere Cinemas will be opening its first FEC in Pell City, Ala., later this year. The state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot entertainment center will feature seven movie theater auditoriums with luxury recliner seating that is all reserved, 12 lanes of Brunswick bowling, a 3,000-square-foot arcade and a full restaurant and bar.
“Bowling was the first thing on our radar and we talked with our friends at Brunswick because the bowling season runs opposite of our movie theater season, which makes a really good fit for an entertainment complex,” Watson says. “This way we will have people in the building and provide entertainment all year long.”
Moving forward, Premiere Cinemas plans to continue innovating and staying ahead of market trends in areas hurting for entertainment options. “We don’t stay stagnant in our company and continue investing back into our buildings,” Watson notes. “We understand our markets and make sure to provide what the guests want in their local entertainment venue.”