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.