New movie theater getting good reviews Stadium-style seating helps to draw crowds

January 11, 1998|By David Mark | David Mark,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Snowden Square 14 Megaplex in Columbia has drawn big crowds since opening Dec. 19.

"Business is doing great," said Dennis Daniels of United Artists, which owns the theater along Snowden River Parkway.

With only two other movie theaters in Columbia, there has long been demand for a third. The new one is large -- with 3,000 seats -- and has stadium-style seating.

That attraction and advertising have helped to draw people from a wide area.

"I really like the stadium-style seating," said Michelle Pihos of Randallstown. "Seeing a movie like 'Titanic,' it really makes a difference in this kind of theater."

Situated near Interstate 95 and Routes 175 and 29, it's easily accessible to people in a 20-mile radius, according to Daniels.

Popularity can produce problems, too.

"There was not enough room in the lobby. People were outside. It seems to be a problem of organization and logistics," said Phillip A. Stahl of Columbia, who saw "Amistad" there.

Only two ticket windows had been opened. This caused the lobby to become crowded beyond its capacity, Stahl said.

"On the weekend it's bad," said David Barker, a theater employee. "We've had lines out the door, but it's fine now."

Scott Cohen, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, said, "It is not uncommon for a new business to have shakedown problems. We hope they don't occur, but sometimes they do."

There have also been complaints about insufficient parking. On weekends, cars can be seen circling the lot.

"It doesn't surprise me that there are problems with parking since there have been an incredible amount of sellout crowds," Daniels said.

The new theater means competition for the two other theaters, Cinema Columbia City 3 on Wincopin Circle and Columbia Palace 9 on Route 108.

Mark Pascucci of Sony, owner of the older Columbia Palace 9, indicated he's not worried about his theater.

"It's a good theater and it will continue to do well," he said.

The owners of the Snowden Square 14 Megaplex acknowledge that the holiday season helped boost crowds.

"It is our intention that we sell out of tickets 52 weeks of the year," Daniels said, "but of course that is not a reality."

Pub Date: 1/11/98

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