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IMAX screen goes up with help from lots of volunteers

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, at 7:50 a.m.

Volunteers wearing white gloves spent Wednesday morning piecing together Bill Warren's 600-foot IMAX screen at the west theater, 21st and Tyler.

It's just one major project on Warren's plate, including a major expansion in Oklahoma planned for next year.

Dozens of Warren staffers and bystanders assembled the screen pieces, laden with silver, that had been laid across the theater's seating area.

"It went well," Warren said Wednesday. "You always worry about something happening and we've never done an IMAX screen before, but it went very well."

The IMAX and improvements totaling $7.2 million to the other auditoriums in the 14-year-old theater are scheduled to open Dec. 17 with "Tron: Legacy," the high-tech 3-D adventure starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde.

IMAX is a trademark for a large-format movie and motion-simulation entertainment center, with screens up to 10 times larger than a conventional movie screen.

With the screen installed, seating and the two digital projectors required to show an IMAX film will go in next week, Warren said.

"It was fun," Warren said. "We had some employees, some bankers, some lawyers. It was kind of like a barn-raising."

The existing auditoriums in the west Wichita theater got new carpet, seats, screens and digital projection equipment.

Warren announced Wednesday morning the pricing structure for the IMAX — $1 extra for kids and $2 extra for adults.

"This may surprise some, but I don't really want higher prices any more than anyone else," Warren said. "The idea is I want people to come see a movie."

Next up is the expansion of Warren's Moore, Okla., theater. Warren announced this week that he's signed a contract to buy an acre and a half adjacent to his theater at 1000 Telephone Road.

Warren declined to outline the expansion plans.

"We're still working on it, but it will be a multimillion-dollar deal," Warren said.

IMAX?

"Possibly, and a few other surprises down there," Warren said. "We'll be under construction within the first six months of the year."

The Moore Warren also has 14 theaters. It opened in April 2008.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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