Conway welcomes new theater

“The theater is a great date night location, especially with the many restaurants nearby,” said Frank Gonzales, marketing manager for Cinemark USA. “It’s a perfect end for a Valentine night. It’s a wonderful place to take the family. It’s still the least expensive form of entertainment available for families. And if you go during matinee or early bird shows, it’s even more cost effective.”

The 12-screen theater opened Dec. 10.

Stephen Fagan, general manager of the theater, said that in the first three weeks since the Cinemark opened, “I have been hearing nothing but great things – ‘Thank you for coming. We’re glad you’re here. We’re glad we don’t have to drive (to Little Rock) anymore.’”

In the first days of operation, Fagan positioned himself in the foyer so he could watch the reactions of patrons as they entered for the first time. Many of them walked through the doors and simply stood agape and wide-eyed, he said.

Long gone is the open courtyard that served as a gathering place for date night for the youth of three generations. In its place stands the lobby of a modern movie theater.

The theater features stadium seating, all-digital projection, 3D in six of the 12 auditoriums and an XD auditorium with a wall-to-wall and floor-to ceiling screen.

Fagan said XD, Extreme Digital Cinema, is “immersive, top-of-the-line technology with the best amps, best speakers, best sound.”

Stadium seating at the Cinemark involves plush, high-backed, rocker-style seats with flip-up cup holders. Fagan said they are comfortable enough to fall asleep in. The theater also has a birthday party room available to rent for children’s parties.

In a press release, James Meredith, vice president of marketing for Cinemark USA, said, “We are so pleased to be opening this new, state-of-the-art theater for movie lovers in Conway.”

Fagan noted this is Conway’s first theater with stadium seating and 3D capability. The digital projectors are all controlled by a central computer, which has the movie times scheduled. Fagan said new movies arrive about once a week.

Fagan is originally from Benton and attended the University of Central Arkansas in the fall of 2005. He has worked for Cinemark for seven years.

“For me personally, it’s been fantastic,” he said, noting he has been working out of state for several years and wanted to return to Arkansas.

He noted in the space of three weeks, he has already begun to see familiar faces of returning customers.

The theater will likely have midnight showings when highly anticipated films are released, as long as there is a demand for the showings, Fagan said.

Gonzales added every Monday is Seniors Day with special pricing for senior citizens.

Asked for his thoughts about Conway and Cinemark, Fagan concluded they are a perfect match.

“I think this theater is what the town deserved, and it was a long time coming,” Fagan said. “Cinemark wanted this for a long time, and it finally came together last year.”