Colorado Springs' newest movie theater complex opens next month on the north side, with fully reclining seats, unlimited refills on soda and popcorn, reserved seating and other amenities designed to provide movie-goers with a VIP experience, its owner says.
Icon Cinemas, a New Mexico-based chain, is targeting a curtain raising for the second or third weekend in November at Victory Ridge, the former Colorado Crossing mixed-use development southeast of InterQuest and Voyager parkways, said Icon owner and operator Stetson Snell.
The 14-screen complex will be the fourth for Icon Cinemas, which also has locations in Albuquerque and Roswell, N.M., and San Angelo, Texas.
Icon chose the Springs for expansion because of its growing population, yet the company still likes the city's small-town feel, Snell said. He moved his family to Colorado Springs six months ago to oversee the complex, which Snell said he expects to become Icon's flagship property.
"It meets all of the demographic markets that we're always looking for in terms of population growth," he said. "It's been a steady town for years and years."
Icon's opening is a major step forward for Victory Ridge. The 153-acre property was known as Colorado Crossing when it was launched in 2007 as a massive residential, commercial and entertainment project.
But its Colorado Springs developer went bankrupt, and most of Colorado Crossing - including partially finished buildings - sat idle for years. Westside Investment Partners of suburban Denver bought the property for $22.1 million in October 2016, renamed it Victory Ridge and has been working to revive the project by finishing an office building and parking garage and planning for apartments, restaurants, hotels and other new uses at the site.
The family-owned Icon chain opened its first complex in 2012 in Roswell. A separate Snell family business, Dolphin Seating, has manufactured movie seats for 20 years, and family members decided to get into the business of operating their own theater chain, Stetson Snell said.
In March, Icon paid $1.75 million to buy an unfinished theater complex at Colorado Crossing that was to have been operated by Cinemark, El Paso County land records show. Icon since has spent about $7 million to finish the complex, Snell said.
Icon's large-screen theaters will have 50 to 130 seats - smaller than traditional auditoriums because the fully reclining, electric seats require more room, Snell said. Older auditoriums might seat about 300, he said.
"In those 50-seater auditoriums, it's really cool," Snell said. "I like those more because it feels almost like you're in a multi-million dollar screening room. It's a real intimate feel. The screen is big; it's a wall-to-wall screen. And then you feel like it's almost your own private theater."
Despite fewer seats, ticket prices will be the same as those of competitors, he said.
Other Icon amenities include:
- One location to buy tickets and concessions.
- Reserved seats so parents with kids "will know exactly where you're sitting," Snell said.
- Free refills of popcorn and soft drinks on the day of purchase, regardless of the item's size.
- Dippin' Dots ice cream and gelato, among other concession items.
- Beer and wine sales. Icon is still awaiting approval from the city of Colorado Springs; it would join increasing numbers of theaters around the country that sell liquor.
Icon will have plenty of competition from chains that operate multi-screen complexes in Colorado Springs.
Regal Cinemas has a 14-screen complex at the InterQuest Marketplace a short drive from Victory Ridge. Chapel Hills 13, a Carmike complex, opened in 2013 at the Chapel Hills Mall and replaced an aging Carmike facility. Cinemark operates a 17-screen complex - including an IMAX theater - at the First & Main Town Center on the Springs' northeast side and the 20-screen Tinseltown facility in the southside Cheyenne Mountain Shopping Center.
Snell, however, said the city's growth should mean plenty of movie-goers for all theaters.
"The current screen count of the city, in terms of the movie theaters that are here, they're not going to be able to keep up with the demand of these big movies," Snell said. "Whenever there's time for a big blockbuster hit and you try to buy a movie ticket on a Friday night, there's just not going to be seats available for people ... We feel there's definitely room for everybody in the market. We're not coming in, planning on just taking from everybody's pie. We're planning on sucking up part of the new pie."
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