Second screen comes to iconic theatre

Second screen comes to iconic theatre
The San Marco Theatre will expand next door into the space that formerly housed The French Cottage Gift Boutique.

The historic San Marco theatre is expanding and soon will offer moviegoers a second screen.

Theatre owner David Blue plans to renovate the iconic playhouse, which was built in 1938, so that another smaller theatre will be built next door in the space formerly occupied by The French Cottage Gift Boutique.

“Single-screen theatres don’t exist in major markets,” Blue said. “If you are going to continue on, that’s what you want to do. Everyone loves the historic San Marco Theatre but film distributors couldn’t care less. They don’t care how long (your building) has been here or what its charm is.”

Blue said the renovation will cost $250,000 and will include tearing down the wall that separates the theatre from the retail space next door. In the 2,000-square foot space, he plans to add a second 43-seat auditorium, two new restrooms that comply to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, a second, smaller entrance to the theatre, a second ticket counter and a new kitchen that will be double the size of the old one, with two separate concession windows allowing it to service both movie auditoriums. The outside facade of the former French Cottage Gift Boutique will be painted with similar colors to the theatre.

The new arrangement “will close off the concession stand more from the theatre so people don’t have to hear noise from the kitchen,” he said. Additional pizza ovens and other new equipment will be added in the refurbishment. “It will enable us to make more food more quickly,” he said.

Included in the renovation will be new “leatherette” rocker chairs in both theaters, with tables in between, similar to what is in the present theatre now. Because the new seats are larger, seating in the original auditorium will be reduced from 225 seats to 220, Blue said.

Having the new theatre should not add to San Marco’s parking woes, said Blue. Because of the reduction of seats in his main theatre, in actuality only 17 seats will be added overall and the effect, as far as parking is concerned, should be negligible, he said.

Blue said he is still “working things out with the city” and is unsure when the renovation will begin. During construction he said he expects the theatre to be closed for a couple of weeks while he connects the two spaces.

By allowing Blue to run two different movies simultaneously, the renovation will help him resolve a sticky problem that has been hurting his business. Movie studios require that he run each picture three weeks, he said. “Business goes well during week one, is so-so during week two and drops off significantly during week three. This will enable me to relocate the film to the smaller studio and bring a new film to the larger auditorium,” he said. “I think the theatre will work better with a second screen.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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