By: Skip Sheffield
The movies are coming back in downtown Boca Raton after two years of darkness, and they promise to be better than ever.
What was most recently known as Sunrise Mizner Park Cinemas is being completely transformed into a new complex called 1Pic Theaters.
When we say completely we mean completely gutted, down to the bare steel skeleton. What had been an eight-screen complex with 1,600 conventional seats is being reconfigured into a luxury 43,000 square-foot facility with just 480 roomy seats for the same amount of eight screens. An independent 7,000-foot restaurant-bar called Tanzi will be attached to the complex so that theater-goers can order gourmet treats and alcoholic beverages during the show. Projection facilities will be updated to the latest all-digital conventional and 3-D video and audio technology, with enhancements for the hearing and visually-impaired.
“It won’t be just going to the movies, it will be a night out; a destination,” declared iPic founder and CEO Hamid Hashemi at a press conference.
“When you walk into the lobby it will be like walking into a W Hotel or a hotel of equal luxury. The comfort will be unparalleled, with blankets, pillows, plenty of foot and leg room and luxurious Laz-Z-Boy type seats.”
Twenty years ago Hamid Hashemi developed the Muvico Palace 20 complex near the airport in Boca Raton as the flagship of the Muvico chain.
The concept was revolutionary at the time: a multiplex with gourmet restaurant attached and premium love seats with beverage service as well as general admission seating.
iPic Theaters takes the concept several steps further, with first-rate personal service in the premium seating, offered with high-class food and cocktail service designed by a renowned professional mixologist.
“There will be nothing ordinary about an evening at iPic Theaters,” said Hashemi. “It will be an event; a special occasion, something for every discerning patron. Seats can be reserved in advance so there will be no waiting in line.”
This special treatment will come at a premium. General admission will be slightly higher than run-of-the-mill multiplexes, and premium seating will be 20-25 percent higher. Estimated prices are $12-$17 weekdays and $17-$25 weekends. iPic Member Rewards programs will be offered for discounts.
“It’s still a bargain compared to going to a concert, theater or sports event,’ Hashemi declares.
Furthermore in the works is a plan to screen first-run movies on a large new screen at Mizner Park Amphitheater at reduced prices for the public.
“This will absolutely fantastic for Mizner Park,” exclaimed Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel. “It is a welcome step in the rebirth of downtown.”
Hashemi refuses to divulge exactly how much the redevelopment is costing his Boca Raton-based iPic Gold Class Entertainment LLC, but obviously it is multiple millions of dollars. It will employ as many as 500 people and draw as many as 300.000 people yearly to downtown Boca Raton. A larger sister 650-seat iPic Theaters is being developed at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. Eight theaters are currently in operation in six other states.
An exact opening time has not been announced, but Hashemi hopes it will be earlier than “Summer 2012”), as advertised; perhaps as early as late May for a soft opening.
For information, go to www.ipictheaters.com or follow on Facebook or Twitter.