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Moviegoers soon to have choice of 32 new screens

Sept. 27, 1996

By Jim Kendrick

Lariat Staff Writer

After years of having only three movie theaters to choose from, none of which had more than six screens, Baylor students will soon be able to choose from many more.

The Waco-Tribune Herald reported on Wednesday that Starplex Cinemas of Dallas recently announced that it will build a multi-million dollar 16-screen theater complex in Waco, located close to the Baylor campus at Valley Mills and Franklin behind Ryan's Steakhouse.

Word has also been traveling for more than a year about the new 16-screen Schulman Theater in Woodway.

The Tribune-Herald reported that Morris and Mark Schulman broke ground three weeks ago for the $15 million City Lights Theater, which will be located at Jewell Drive and Highway 84.

The complex will include not only 16 movie screens, but also a fun park.

In order to compete with City Lights, which will be located just four miles away, the Starplex Theater is boasting a huge, 600-seat theater with a 40-by-70 foot screen.

'Ours wouldn't just be the biggest in Waco; it would be among the largest in the country,' said Starplex vice president Ken Menard in an interview with the Tribune-Herald.

The 61,000-square foot Starplex theater will also have a pizza parlor, game room, three concession stands, and all the most recent digital sound technology from DTS, Dolby and Sony.

Mr. Gatti's Pizza is also considering putting a Gattiland Pizza and Amusement Center next to the theater.

Some questions have been raised about the two mega-theater complexes being located so close together.

Distributors generally like to keep a certain distance between theaters where they show their films.

Some are wondering if the two complexes won't be fighting for first run movies when it comes down to the wire during the big summer movie season.

Dallas broker Ray Sanders said it shouldn't be a problem.

In an interview with the Tribune-Herald, he said Starplex chose the location because of its proximity to Baylor and the easy access from Valley Mills.

He pointed out what most Waco moviegoers have known for a long time: Waco is underserved, both in the number and the quality of the movie screens currently offered.

'There just aren't enough theaters right now,' said Marcus Best, a Snyder senior. 'Considering this is a city of more than 100,000 people with a Big 12 university in it, three theaters with only six screens each just doesn't cut it.'

'The way it is now, it's hard for Waco to get any of the smaller art films because there just isn't room,' said Brian Thomson, a Plano senior. 'Some of the best movies of the year like Lone Star might never make it here. Maybe now that the big theaters can take the first run films, the smaller theaters will be open to more diverse films that Waco doesn't normally get.'

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