CHAMPAIGN — Moviegoers on the north side of Champaign will have to travel farther the next few months to get their fix of cinema.
The Beverly 18 multiplex at 910 Meijer Drive, C, closed in mid-February, and the theater complex replacing it isn't expected to open until summer, a spokesman for Carmike Cinemas said.
Carmike announced last year it would replace the Beverly 18 with the Carmike 13.
The company initially said the Beverly would be "open and operating for guests during construction, with sections blocked off."
But now it's time for the old complex to be torn down — to allow entry to the new complex immediately to the north.
"We stayed open as long as we could," said Terrell Mayton, director of marketing for Carmike.
Of ongoing construction, he said, "it seems to be moving along well. We expect to be open in summertime."
On Wednesday, piles of theater seats dotted the theater parking lot. Signs on the doors said, "Sorry, we're closed but we'll be back," and indicated a state-of-the-art replacement would open "later this spring."
Inside, demolition and salvage work continued on the 17-year-old building.
Six auditoriums were taken down earlier to make way for the new multiplex, said George Weiser, operations manager for Ironhorse Concrete Recycling.
As of Wednesday, eight of the remaining 12 auditoriums had been torn out, and "we have four more to go," Weiser said.
Demolition started Feb. 21, and Weiser said he's hoping to have it finished by the end of April.
As described last year, the new Carmike 13 complex will include a "Big D" auditorium with a screen three stories tall. That auditorium will seat 600 people in high-back leather seats, and the other 12 auditoriums will have stadium-style seating with high-back rocking seats.
Altogether, the auditoriums are expected to accommodate 2,800 people.
In the meantime, Mayton said Carmike gift cards and gift books will be honored at other theaters in the chain. The nearest of those are the Strand 10 in Decatur, the Hickory Point 12 in Forsyth and the Palace Cinema 10 in Bloomington.
The gift cards and books can also be used at the new Carmike 13 when it opens, he said.
The Beverly opened in December 1995. At that time, it had 12 auditoriums and was owned by GKC Theatres. Six more screens were added in 1999, and the complex was acquired by Carmike Cinemas in 2005.
As of Sept. 30, 2012, Columbus, Ga.-based Carmike had 216 theaters with 2,119 screens. It recently completed the acquisition of 16 theaters in seven states from Rave Review Cinemas, including one in Peoria.