Bow Tie Cinemas has opened a four-screen, 300-seat art house theater in its growing Movieland development, and the company’s head of operations said the camera is still rolling at the Richmond site.
Criterion Cinemas at Movieland opened Dec. 28 and will primarily show independent films. Those pictures typically make less money than, say, the latest James Bond flick, but Joe Masher, cheif operating officer at Bow Tie Cinemas, said his company has had a lot of success in Richmond and in other markets with indie films.
“There is only one great art house theater in Richmond, and that’s the Westhampton,” Masher said. “And that’s only two screens, so we felt there was a need. With our four screens, we’ll be able to show a few more movies that Richmonders have had to miss out on in years past.”
This is the Connecticut-based company’s fourth Criterion product. Masher would not discuss how much the theater cost to install. When Bow Tie opened Movieland at Boulevard Square in 2009, the 17-screen multiplex — built inside a 19th-century former locomotive assembly plant — was Richmond’s first new theater in 35 years and cost more than $7 million. The new Criterion Cinemas at Movieland is housed in a former brass foundry.
Bow Tie had originally considered the site for a restaurant location, but Masher said the market had other plans.
“With the economy the way it is, there was a glut of Class A restaurant space available in Richmond,” he said. “But we still want to bring more food options to the area. We recently purchased the land behind the theater, and that will have restaurant pad sites available.”
City records show that Bow Tie purchased the six-acre plot in October for $895,000. The company now owns about 17 acres of land at the intersection of Leigh Street and North Boulevard.
Masher also said the company is in the early stages of planning an expansion of the Movieland theater that would include an IMAX screen.
The Science Museum of Virginia has an IMAX screen, but it is used primarily for educational films. The closest place for Richmonders to see most IMAX feature films is the Regal Commonwealth 20 in Midlothian.
Movieland and the new Criterion Cinemas at Movieland are within walking distance of some big developments, including Steve Leibovic and Rebkee’s Interbake cookie factory project and the new Redskins practice field, which is slated to begin construction as soon as this week.
I’m really looking forward to seeing a flick or two there.