Say the words "Dunkirk Movieplex" and everyone has an opinion. Let's face it: the horror stories about the old theater are as common around here as chicken wings. When it closed last winter and reopened under new ownership, the promise of improvement was made but many were still skeptical of the theater that had become known as "The Stickyplex."
Dunkirk Movieplex 8 General Manager Bob Stewart is making good on that promise and the man knows what he's doing. Even though his parents forbade him from getting a job at the movie theater, Stewart started in the movie business at the age of 14 at the Wintergarden in Jamestown (he's a member of Jamestown High School Class of 1984). This marks his 30th year in the business. After opening and operating theaters all over the country (and in Canada!) and coming back home to Western New York just by circumstance, he became involved in the new Movieplex and can't wait for the theater to exceed the community's expectations.
I heard some crazy rumors that the Movieplex is getting an IMAX screen is there any truth to that?
Bob Stewart: No. I wish that rumor was true! It just wouldn't be cost-efficient in a market like Dunkirk. An IMAX would into a market the size of Buffalo but even Erie, Pa., doesn't have IMAX screens.
What about 3D?
3D is actually on its way! One of our 3D screens was installed last night (Tuesday) in fact. The owners and his team were in and installed the 3D screen overnight. We're doing it to all of the different theaters that we own, so we're on a whirlwind tour to install 3D. Now our next step is we're waiting for our 3D equipment to arrive and then we have technicians that will come from the company that produces the 3D equipment that will train all of us, so that's fantastic. We were telling everyone that our target date for 3D was Thanksgiving but it looks like Dunkirk will have an early, early treat. We're hoping fingers crossed that we'll have it up and running for the premiere of "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," which is at the end of the month.
That's fast! Which theater is the new 3D screen in?
Our first big 3D screen is in theater two, which is our largest auditorium. Eventually, the plan is hopefully to have 3D in as many screens as feasibly possible. We're wondering now if 3D is going to remain as consistent as it is now or if it's just a blip. Some movies are fantastic in 3D and some movies are fantastic in a traditional film sense.
It does seem like things are continuing to go in the 3D direction.
And digital technology continues to come along. I mean, back in the old days, in the 1950s, you had the red-and-green glasses and 3D was a gimmick, for lack of a better term. There was some attempt in the late '80s, early '90s, with a few 3D movies "Comin' at Ya!" (1981) was one of them, "Friday the 13th: Part 3" in 3D (1982) was another, but the 3D technology really hadn't developed. With digital technology, that changes the whole playing field.
What goes into installing a 3D screen?
There's actually not a big difference between a 3D screen and a regular screen. Back in the old days, you had the "silver screen" the screen was actually silver. In the era of the multiplex, which was born in the late '70s, it was cost-prohibitive to put up silver screens everywhere. So everyone went to a white screen. All of these screens are perforated; if you go up close to a movie screen, you'll see it's filled with lots of holes and people will say, "Oh, it's just so the sound can travel out through the speakers behind the screen." Partially, but if the screen was a solid image, the light reflection off the screen would just give you a headache so that's why screens are actually perforated. The 3D screen that we have installed is just a big silver screen. The technology behind 3D nowadays is all in the glasses and the equipment upstairs in the booth.
I found that the Dunkirk Movieplex is now on Facebook and saw that you had mentioned making improvements on the theater what else are you working on?
We're treating this like a house remodeling room by room, little by little. We've already replaced the seats in three of the auditoriums. Because of the design of the building (which wasn't always a movie theater), the back six theaters will always be traditional seating. In three of the back six theaters, we've installed oversized rocking chairs. They are fantastic! The guests that have been back there so far have loved them. We've cleaned the screens, we've redone that, we have a new sound system. Eventually all six back theaters will have the new seating. We're doing this in phases. Our eventual plan for theaters one and two will be adding stadium seating. I don't have a schedule for that yet it will not happen until next year at the earliest because that's a construction project, and the last thing we want to do is be down during the holiday season. So that's coming down the line. As I joke with everyone, the ugly '80s carpeting will be the last thing that gets replaced! But the theaters are clean. There was a time, with the previous owners, where it became known as "The Stickyplex." We're fighting an uphill battle overcoming the past reputation of the theater. The ugly carpeting is still there but you can enjoy a movie in any of the theaters without worrying about sticking to the floor or trash from three days ago being there.
My biggest issue with the old Movieplex 59 is that more often than not, something would go wrong the sound cutting out, the screen being out of focus, a fire in the projection room during the sequel to "Meet the Parents" I could go on and on. It was a mess.
Well, the equipment has been upgraded. Everything's running well we still have hiccups but that's the nature of the beast. Everything's coming along. But film does break. It can happen in an old theater, a brand-new theater, it just depends on how you handle the situation. It's like a car sometimes it doesn't start. You get everything back up and running, apologize to your guests and make them happy. A lot of those old issues with "The Stickyplex" was with training. Our staff is well-trained. I'm coming out of the corporate world I was with AMC Theaters for about a zillion years and I'm bringing a lot of the best practices from my former life at AMC to Dunkirk and to the Movieplex.
Why do you think the Dunkirk theater is worth investing in?
Well, first off, it's the opportunity. If you're in northern Chautauqua County, you can drive to Jamestown, Erie or you could drive up to Buffalo those are basically your choices. We are a local company, we want to invest locally and it's our local community. Part of our broad plan for what we're doing with the Dunkirk Movieplex is becoming an active member in the community. We're calling it our grassroots marketing campaign. You have so many big corporations and Dunkirk has many corporations who are active in the community as well. We want people to understand that we live here, we work here, we spend our money here. A well-run, state-of-the-art theater will be a treat for everyone in the Dunkirk-Fredonia area. There will be no need for driving. . And in the winter, do you want to drive to Buffalo or Erie? On our Facebook page (), anyone can read it, anyone can post. People have posted comments on the theater and they're saying, "We want a movie theater here." One of the other things we're working on is trying to bring things that you may not usually find in a market like Dunkirk. For example, we're bringing student pricing for students both in college and high school with student ID cards, there will be $6 admission. We understand that in this economy, money's tight. We're going to try to build up a relationship with SUNY Fredonia as well and get involved in the Fred Card program.
I saw a mention on the Facebook page about something coming up involving "The Other Guys" (starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) what are the details?
We're having a premiere of sorts. "The Other Guys" comes out Aug. 6 so that Thursday night (technically Friday), at 12:01 a.m., we're going to do a screening. Sony has committed to us posters, T-shirts, giveaways, all sorts of things, because we want to kick off the rebirth of the Movieplex with a big event. "The Other Guys" is going to be the last big movie of the summer they're tracking it at $100 million-plus. The movie looks pretty darn good! There will be lots of tschotskes that we'll be giving away. Tickets will go on sale on Friday so people will be able to purchase their tickets two weeks in advance. This will also be the first show the student pricing will be available.
How has business been since you guys have reopened?
Our business levels have been steadily increasing. A lot of it is due to word of mouth. I can spend all of the advertising dollars I want but it's just the word of mouth, friends talking to friends "It's not 'The Stickyplex' anymore." We're a unique business in that we're a product-driven business. If a movie isn't something people want to see, it's a little bit slower. If it's something they want to see, it's a little bit bigger. We're happy with the steady increase in attendance and as more and more people realize that the Dunkirk Movieplex is the place to go see movies and that they don't have to drive anymore, it will be a great thing.
After many, many months of anticipation, "Mad Men" returns Sunday at 10 p.m. on AMC for a fourth season filled with drama, divorce, Joan (Holloway) Harris, the best vintage fashion on television, and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
The Clarion Hotel will feature live music by Joe Head & Billy McEwen Thursday from 8 to 11 p.m., Big Tone on Friday from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and Side Effects on Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Walleye Willie's will have Last Call playing Thursday, Catergory 5 on Friday and a Budweiser Party on Saturday.
Music on the Pier tonight will feature the live music of Lucky 13 starting at 6:30 p.m. They call themselves "the hardest-working cover band in Canada" and specialize in top 40 rock and dance.
On Friday, the second annual Street Dance will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at the VFW Post 6472, 13 N. Main St. in Silver Creek, with live music provided by the Untouchables.
On Saturday, as part of the Adams Art Gallery Concert Series, The Kingfield Family will perform at 8 p.m. in the Urbscheit Room of the gallery on Central Avenue in Dunkirk. The cost is $5 and refreshments will be available.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Give her the dish on what's happening at email@example.com
There was really only one movie I was excited to see this summer and "Inception" was it. I don't want to give anything away about the plot I'll only say that it has to do with dreams and the perception of reality but simply this: my expectations were high and they were exceeded. After all of the remakes and sequels, it was so refreshing to see a movie that was completely original. "Inception" has everything you could want in a movie: an all-star cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine), a story that is complicated and challenging but not confusing, mind-blowing action scenes and special effects. See it on the big screen and do it now.
It's a less-good version of "Fatal Attraction." I'm not sure why Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried would get involved in this mess. Valuable lesson learned: hookers cannot be trusted. I just saved you the rental fee and potentially other miscellaneous fees.
I have never been more in disagreement with a Rotten Tomatoes rating. 71 percent?! This pseudo-zombie "horror" movie was laughable. I've been more creeped out by episodes of "Dora the Explorer."
I mostly wanted to see how well Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning did portraying Joan Jett and Cherie Currie (respectively). It's hard to say because there wasn't much acting required, mostly posing, the occasional line of dialogue and some singing (with somewhat better-than-expected results). "The Runaways" wasn't terrible but it wasn't as engaging as it could have been it doesn't go beyond the surface but has some good tunes and a handful of good scenes.
GET OUT OF TOWN
The annual Infringement Festival gets started this weekend in Buffalo. The event is a week long showcase of experimental and avant garde performances from a variety of musicians, artists, comedians and actors. One of the many venues hosting events is Soundlab. They have a full weekend scheduled with bands from Friday to Sunday. Friday night will feature Avant Beats with Pam Swarts, This is the Sun, Obscene Object and more. On Saturday, Saving the Universe with Alice Alexandrescu, Kyle Butler and Marc Tomko are slated to perform. Finally, Sunday night has the talents of The Sacrifice, Blue Lazer, TotemPole and John Bacon. The doors open at 9 p.m. each night and donations are appreciated. Soundlab is located at 110 Pearl St. in Buffalo. For more information on the Infringement Festival, check out: www.infringebuffalo.org .