Chapel Hill News

New Chapel Hill movie theater offers sneak preview

The Silverspot Cinema doesn’t open for two months, but the company offered a sneak preview of the new 13-screen theater Friday.

“People say you are a luxury theater,” CEO Francisco Schlotterbeck told a tour group. “No. We are a sophisticated, high-end movie theater.”

And as if to prove the point, marketing director Randi Emerman pointed out the two cup holders on the arm of each hand-sewn, leather seat.

One for your soft drink and one for your bottle of wine.

Or two beers, if you prefer.

Silverspot, with two theaters in Florida, chose to build its new $12 million theater in Chapel Hill based on residents’ income, demographics and lack of movie-screens, Schlotterbeck said. The South American company – Schlotterbeck is from Santiago, Chile – is also building theaters in Ohio and a third one in Florida in downtown Miami.

Last year’s $10.4 billion U.S. and Canada box office was down 5 percent dip from 2013, the second-lowest gross in six years, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The number of tickets sold – 1.27 billion – fell 6 percent.

But the naysayers have predicted the death of movie theaters before, Schlotterbeck said

“Everybody said the color TV was going to destroy movies,” he said. “What happened? Nothing.”

Reserved seating

Silverspot is betting on a movie-going experience it says will fill seats.

To see a film, you’ll buy tickets online, or at one of eight kiosks. Adult tickets will cost about $16, student tickets, $11.

Every seat is reserved, so if you get yours early you’re guaranteed an aisle seat.

68 Percentage of people in the United States and Canada who went to the movies at least once in 2014

Movie goers will enter the theater, located in the old Dillard’s spot in the mall, through a restaurant/bar called Trilogy, where diners can eat whether they’re seeing a movie or not. There will be no serving inside the individual theaters, but you can box anything from the restaurant and take it inside with your popcorn.

Friday’s tour started with a stop in a bathroom, still under construction. Instead of stalls, each toilet is inside its own little room behind a red wood door — the better to make the black marble walls pop.

“We’re very proud of what we do with our restrooms,” Schlotterbeck said.

The 13 theaters range from about 50 seats to 150 seats, general manager Seth Rector said. The rows are generously sloped to give good sight lines and special consideration has been given to those watching from wheelchairs.

Along with major Hollywod films, Silverspot will host film series, independent movies and satellite broadcasts of fine arts, music and sports events.

‘Gem in the Triangle’

Nancy Kitterman, a representative of mall owner Madison Marquette, said the new theater continues redefining the shopping center that opened more than 40 years ago.

“This is the level of everything we’re trying to present throughout the mall,” she said. “So that University Place really becomes the gem in the Triangle for shopping and dining. It’s basically an experience.”

The theater opens Oct. 2, the day after a party, and the company’s 40-year old CEO is already looking to the December opening of the latest “Star Wars” installment.

The original is his favorite movie.

“I still remember that; I think I was 6,” he said after Friday’s tour ended. “‘What is the force?’ I asked my mom. ‘What is the force?”

Schultz: 919-829-8950