Warren IMAX tops North American attendance

01/19/2011 12:00 AM

01/19/2011 11:11 AM

Almost 7,000 patrons spent a little more than $90,000 last weekend at Bill Warren's west Wichita IMAX theater, making it the top performing IMAX in North America.

Meanwhile, city officials and a business with two 21st and Tyler locations say the traffic generated by the theater has exceeded their expectations.

A total of 6,842 patrons with ticket sales of $90,717 came through the turnstiles from the midnight show Thursday through Monday, according to Warren official Dan Gray.

Those figures make the theater the top performing IMAX in North America last weekend, according to Phil Groves, a spokesman for the IMAX Corp. in Canada.

The $7.2 million theater opened Dec. 17 featuring "Tron: Legacy" and will show "The Green Hornet" next.

"It honestly does exceed our expectations," Warren said. "I certainly didn't expect this. I thought it would perform well because of the quality and size of it, but we're 400,000 folks and we're up against Seattle and L.A. and stuff."

Scott Redler, a partner in Freddy's Frozen Custard and Timberline restaurants, said the theater has been a boon for two company locations at 21st and Tyler.

Sales are up 5 percent in the last month at both locations, Redler said.

"It's hard to have expectations when you've never experienced it," Redler said. "We think that theater will draw thousands of people to the corner."

Wichita Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell said he remains confident the theater will deliver on promises of 300,000 annual attendance.

"It hasn't taken long, has it?" said Longwell, whose district is home to the IMAX at 21st and Tyler. "And I don't want to say it's reached its peak. I'm absolutely delighted that the theater's sitting in my district. It's a neat benefit for our citizens."

The 601-seat theater features four shows daily, with a fifth at midnight on Friday and Saturday.

The project, which included renovation of the facility's existing theaters, was financed by a $16 million industrial revenue bond issue.

The remainder of the issue was used to refinance existing debt on the 14-year-old structure, Warren's first Wichita theater.

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