By Sue Botos
When Brian Menoni and his wife decided to take in a movie over the weekend, they weren’t expecting “Waterworld.”
Arriving at the AMC Theatres in Westwood Town Center for a matinee showing of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” over the weekend, the couple noticed a section of seats cordoned off in the theater showing the film. But they thought nothing of it, since the complex is undergoing major renovation.
“After a while we heard this ‘drip, drip, drip,’” Menoni recalled. He said that when his eyes adjusted to the dark of the theater, he noted a steady fall of dripping water coming from the ceiling above the closed area.
“This was an accident waiting to happen,” Menoni stated, adding that he, along with several other moviegoers, complained to a manager, with one customer claiming he saw some ceiling tiles come down. Menoni said the female manager, whose name he did not recall, was “very nice,” refunding admission to the customers, and stating that the theater showing “The Hunger Games” would be closed until renovations were completed.
But according to city building commissioner Kevin Beirne, the leak may have been an inconvenience, but nothing to raise the roof over.
“On Thursday (Dec. 12) they installed air handlers on the roof. When the snow came, it got under the roof tiles and it started leaking,” Beirne told West Life, adding that the building is structurally sound and will not collapse.
Beirne added that some theaters in the AMC complex will soon be closed for renovation as new ones are slated to open by the end of the year. After AMC lost its bid for the new 10-screen complex at Great Northern Mall in Westlake to Regal Cinemas, the chain undertook a multimillion dollar face-lift project at Westwood Town Center.
The 22,740-square-foot, six-screen complex was built in the late 1980s, and will cover about the same area when the work is complete. However, Beirne said an 8,770-square-foot IMAX theater will be added, as well as “57-inch power recliners” for each of the six theaters. Beirne said this will reduce capacity for the complex by about 900 seats.
Presently the nearest IMAX, which offers greater size and picture resolution, is located at the Regal Cinemas in Westlake’s Crocker Park.
The AMC renovation will consist of construction of the $1 million IMAX shell, which will be paid for by the shopping center ownership. Beirne said that the bill for more than $2 million worth of interior renovations will be paid by AMC. These include an updated snack bar offering items such as chicken tenders, and Coke Freestyle machines, which will allow customers to personalize their drinks by mixing more than 100 flavors using a touch screen.
A final phase of the project will begin in September, when Marc’s takes over space occupied currently by one of the theaters for an expansion project. This will include a deli counter and wider aisles.
Although the Marc’s and theater construction may be causing some inconvenience, Beirne said there is a silver lining to the playbook. “We’re glad we could keep them both in town,” he stated.