Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who has already made a name for himself opening a chain of highly successful movie theaters in poor, urban areas like South Central Los Angeles, said yesterday he plans to open 14 theaters around the country, including two in Maryland in 1998.
The theaters, in Prince George's County and Baltimore, will have plush seating and 12 or 16 large screens, and they will be designed to help bring the latest, popular movies to minority areas, which are typically underserved.
But they should also benefit the surrounding communities by spurring economic activity, according to Johnson. Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the shopping mall that houses the screens in Los Angeles, went from a 50 percent vacancy rate when the Magic Johnson Theatres opened to full leasing today. In addition, retail sales increased dramatically and new restaurants have opened.
"Revenue has gone up 20 to 25 percent," said Tissany Davis, assistant manager of the Wherehouse Records store in Crenshaw Plaza. "Traffic has really gone up."
Davis also said the mall is busy all week long and four new stores were recently added.
"We are definitely excited about other locations and the opportunity for minorities to build those facilities and the job opportunities in those areas," Johnson said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.
Sony Theatres is a partner with Johnson and helps provide funding for the theaters. In Baltimore, about $10.5 million will be spent to construct the 12-screen theater, Johnson said.
The exact location and a developer will be announced within two months, but each theater will need two or three acres of land and room for 1,300 cars.
Pub Date: 10/03/96