Local movie houses to undergo renovations, get big screens

Local movie houses to undergo renovations, get big screens

CHAMPAIGN — An official of Carmike Cinemas said he hopes a replacement theater for the Beverly 18 multiplex in Champaign can be open by next spring.

The Columbus, Ga.-based theater chain plans to replace the Beverly with a new multiplex, the Carmike 13, that would feature a screen that's three stories tall.

Meanwhile, renovation of Goodrich Quality Theatres' Savoy 16 multiplex is expected to get under way in August — also with the addition of a big screen.

At the Carmike 13, the so-called "Big D" auditorium would seat 600 people in high-back leather seats, and the other 12 auditoriums would all have stadium-style seating with high-back rocking seats.

"The Big D will be the centerpiece of the Carmike 13," said Terrell Mayton, the company's director of marketing. That auditorium will feature SurroundSound and an "ultra-bright screen," he said.

"It's like HD on steroids," he said, referring to the high-definition picture.

Carmike is building 14 multiplexes with "Big D" auditoriums, and the Champaign multiplex would be the company's first in Illinois with "Big D," he said.

The Beverly multiplex opened 17 years ago in December 1995. At that time, it had 12 auditoriums and was owned by GKC Theatres. The multiplex added six more screens in 1999 and was acquired by Carmike Cinemas in 2005.

The Beverly took its name from a theater in Peoria that was one of the first that George Kerasotes built.

"During the build of the Carmike 13, we'll be taking down part of the Beverly 18," Mayton said. "It will go in phases, and it will be open and operating for guests during construction, with sections blocked off."

No date for construction has been set, pending government approval, Mayton said. But construction of that kind of multiplex typically takes nine to 12 months, depending on weather, he added.

Altogether, the Carmike 13's auditoriums are expected to accommodate 2,800 people. Ticket prices for the "Big D" auditorium will run a little higher than those for other auditoriums — with the differential "typically in the $2 price range," he said.

Mayton said the Carmike 13's lobby is designed to have multiple "concession islands" and a Coca-Cola "free-style drink center," where patrons can mix and match flavors to come up with "120-plus drink choices."

He said the multiplex will have "one-stop ticketing and concessions stations," where customers get tickets and concessions at the same time.

In January, Goodrich Quality Theatres, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., outlined ideas for renovation of its Savoy 16 theater complex in Savoy.

The ideas included putting stadium seating in auditoriums that don't already have one, converting an existing auditorium to a birthday-party room and adding restrooms.

Heath Thomas, a regional manager for Goodrich Quality Theatres, said details for the renovation are still being fleshed out. But he said the renovation will add an auditorium with a "large-screen format" and keep the total number of auditoriums at 16.

Thomas said the project is expected to go out for bids in the next two weeks with renovation expected to begin in mid- to late August.


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

serf wrote on June 27, 2012 at 8:06 am



On a related note, the Harvest Moon drive in theater in Gibson City needs to raise $150,000 for digital projectors this year or they risk closing down.  

If you've never been there, it's a real treat and a local piece of Americana (only six bucks to get in, too).  You should go support this local landmark or it might close forever.  Google Harvest Moon and check out their website.

News Gazette, how bout a story on Harvest Moon?

Midwest Unrest wrote on June 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

The Lorraine Theatre in Hoopeston had to close down for this very reason. The switch to Digital Projectors is killing a lot of small, independent theatres. Not all of them are as fortunate as the Art Theatre to be in such a large, supportive community.

just_wondering wrote on June 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Harvest Moon is a wonderful family experience! The kids enjoy playing in the large grassy area in front of the screen before the movie starts. They have several fundraisers going, so check them out and let's keep the Harvest Moon alive!

Orbiter wrote on June 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

What Carmike really needs to do is get their horrible website fixed up. Try looking up a showtime at the Beverly using your phone--on the carmike site.  It's endless zooming & panning. The Savoy is much better.

Also, both theatres should get functional marquees. Making you go inside the lobby to see what the showtimes are is really annoying (esp. when their website is so lame on your phone).

Combining ticket sales with refreshments is a terrible idea. Very family-unfriendly, and really slows down the line.  I ran into this at the Beverly one evening, and the line was so long and slow that I gave up and left the property.  And as much as I love The Art Theater, downtown, their combined ticket/concession line is exactly the same--slow.  Except that their concessions are priced reasonably enough that I generally do buy something!

TomG wrote on June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

Try using the Fandago app or Flixster app.  They both work great for viewing showtimes.

Orbiter wrote on June 30, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Thanks, TomG.  Yes, I have used the Fandango and other sites for local movie houses, but there is something to be said for getting information from the horses mouth.

Also, I have encountered instances where the 3rd party sites have incorrect information.  And 3rd party sites do not relieve the business itself from having an adequate site of its own.

americanproud wrote on June 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

In an age where families can't afford the already-high ticket prices and concession prices, I wonder how much higher the ticket prices will be after the new and improved 3-story-high screen.  My familiy will forego the whole luxury theatre experience and continue to wait for the DVD to come out.  A family of 4 can easily shell out $60 or more for a 2-hour movie at the theatre. 

If we do decide to splurge on a movie, we'll go to the Harvest Moon in Gibson City.  What a treat it is to watch an outdoor movie under the stars!

Midwest Unrest wrote on June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

They did mention in the article, there would be a $2 surcharge for the bigger screen. 

buffster76 wrote on June 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

I'm glad several people commented on the Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City, a place near and dear to my heart. My father was the original owner/operator of the Harvest Moon and operated it until his health declined too much to continue. In the early '80s, he was fortunate enough to have Mike Harroun contact him about leasing the land and re-opening the Harvest Moon. After my father's death in 1992, my family continued to lease the land to Mike. He does a fantastic job of keeping up the property and providing high-quality entertainment for a reasonable price. When my mother died about two weeks ago, we requested memorials be made to the save the drive-in fund. It's unfortunate that none of the grant money available to help indoor theaters with their upgrade to digital is available for outdoor theaters. I guess they are just another expendable part of our history. However, I'm very happy to see there are still many people who enjoy the special experience of watching a movie at the drive-in!

vcponsardin wrote on June 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

The renovations are wasted on me.  I don't go to the movies anymore.  Not only are they too expensive, I got tired of the rudeness and thoughtlessness of many movie goers I encountered.  Talking out loud as if they were at home in their living rooms, getting up and down multiple times to buy snacks (you'd think someone could sit still for 90 minutes without eating constantly), texting, Tweeting, and cell phones going off constantly.  I'm amazed anyone pays to sit through that sort of nonsense.  I can't stand it anymore.  Netflx and Hulu on a large flatscreen TV have solved the issue for me.

Lostinspace wrote on June 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm


Ryder wrote on June 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I too rely on home viewing now for most of my entertainment, largely for the same reasons you've cited. For all the money spent on seats, digital projectors, bigger screens, better speakers...I'd rather they take the money and employ some ushers who would actually remove unruly patrons from the building. 

Fromthearea wrote on June 27, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I agree.  If I'm going to spend the money on a movie, I'll wait until I can go to the drive in.  Haven't done that as much as I'd like, but $6/ticket is waaaaaaaay better than $9+ a ticket when you're buying for the family.  For the $2 surcharge, if I really wanted to see something that bad, I'd wait for a trip to the inlaws in Chicago and see it up there, minus the surcharge, with better facilities and less students.

ddf1972 wrote on June 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Great memories of trips to the Lorraine through the cornfields from Champaign to see the Star Wars prequel along with lots of others.  Love the diner there that has/had phones to call orders in to the kitchen.  Didn't know it closed, very sad to hear (live in St. Louis area now).  Looks like Art's future is tenuous as well.  Come on folks, suppoprt these places, they deserve it!

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I bet "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" will really be cool on a bigger screen.  It is less hassle, and less expensive to watch movies on cable pay for view.  No missing the movie when going to the restroom, or getting refreshments.  No lines, or people talking during the film.  It all depends on if you want the theatre experience.