A battle of the box offices is shaping up in Opelika, Ala., with an upstart movie theater company preparing to take on Carmike Cinemas.
Revolution Cinemas, headed by the son of the former Carmike chairman and chief executive officer who was fired by the company in January 2009, has plans to construct a 14-screen, 3,400-seat theater near the Tiger Town retail development off Interstate 85.
Financial terms of the project were not disclosed.
“This is the first of several,” Michael Wynn Patrick II, the son of former Carmike top executive Michael Patrick, said Monday. “We’re hoping to make another announcement midweek this week. We put a deal together with a group in Atlanta who I can’t disclose yet to do three” theaters.
The 28-year-old Patrick, who goes by the name Wynn, won’t be getting any help or advice from his father, however.
As part of his separation package from Columbus-based Carmike, the elder Patrick received $5 million and other benefits. But he also had to sign an agreement to not compete with his former employer for three years.
“He’s under that non-compete,” said Wynn Patrick, who is CEO of Revolution Cinemas. “I wish he could. It would have been a lot easier. But I can’t even bring anything over to his house.”
The proposed movie theater is on a 9-acre piece of land at the intersection of I-85 and U.S. 280, adjacent to a Holiday Inn Express in the Capps Landing development.
It’s the same property upon which Carmike announced last August plans to construct a 12-screen, 2,600-seat movie house. The company at the time was working with Stephen Benson, principal of Blackrock LLC, to make the theater a reality.
“The deal just fell apart,” said Carmike Chief Operating Officer Fred Van Noy. “That particular site, we were not able to get that deal consummated. And we are actually talking to a developer across the interstate, next to Lowe’s, to build a theater over there.”
On the new site, however, Carmike plans to increase the size of its facility, building a 12-screen theater with 2,885 seats.
The Columbus firm already operates Wynnsong Cinemas, a 16-screen movie house on University Drive in Auburn.
Carmike’s lease negotiations on the new complex location are nearly complete, Van Noy said, with a signed deal expected soon. Construction would begin immediately, with the cineplex targeted for opening by December.
Wynn Patrick said his theater across the highway likely won’t open until spring 2011. But, he said, it will be state of the art with digital viewing and stadium seating. It also will feature 80-foot-wide screens in two auditoriums that each seat 756 patrons.
That compares to the 610 seats and a 70-foot-wide screen at the Carmike 15 theater at Columbus Park Crossing.
The close proximity of the two competing theaters should make for a hyper-competitive environment, acknowledged Van Noy at Carmike.
“It will be interesting,” he said. “It’s not typical for theaters to be built across the street from each other.”
Wynn Patrick worked 10 years with Carmike while his father was at the helm.
“I’ve done almost everything there to some degree,” he said.
In launching Revolution Cinemas, he has put together a management team that includes former employees of Carmike and another motion-picture exhibitor Cinemark.
While the Opelika complex is the company’s first, Carmike operates 245 theaters, with nearly 2,300 screens in 35 states. It also is an industry leader in digital viewing.
Both of the competing movie houses are expected to be fully digital, capable of showing special events and 3D offerings.
The Auburn-Opelika area is a growing community. A major presence there is Auburn University, which is home to about 24,000 students.