Friday, May 13, 2005 | 10:47 a.m.
Just in time for the opening of the newest Star Wars flick, moviegoers in the northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley have a new theater to visit at the same time an old one has shut down.
Century Theatres on Thursday closed its Rancho Santa Fe movie theater but opens a new movie theater today with its first scheduled show times across the street at Santa Fe Station Casino.
The new theater -- called Century 16 Santa Fe Station -- is a part of the company's plan to ensure it has theaters with updated amenities, Nancy Klasky, vice president of marketing for Century Theatres, said.
"We have replaced all of the theaters that we have in existence that are no longer state of the art; it is a part of that initiative and that policy," Klasky said.
The theater opens less than a week before the expected blockbuster movie "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" opens Thursday. Century 16 Santa Fe Station is one of two Century Theatres in the Las Vegas Valley that will feature the movie in digital format, Klasky said. She said the other would be Century Orleans 18.
The company has six theaters in the valley.
Century 16 Santa Fe Station will have double the staff of the closed theater with almost 100 employees, Klasky said. She said a combination of the fact that the theater will have more seats and the summer season made it necessary to hire more workers for the new theater.
"We've got a lot more seats so we'll have a lot more customers here so there was an opportunity to increase our staff," Klasky said.
Both movie theaters have 16 screens, but she declined to say the difference in square footage of the new theater and the old theater and she couldn't confirm how many seats the new and old theaters have. Klasky said the new theater features auditoriums with capacities that range between 200 and 500 seats.
Rancho Santa Fe opened about 10 years ago, Klasky said. She said the old theater won't operate as a movie theater anymore, and she said she is unsure what will happen to it.
She said the new theater will feature an Express Thru Snack Bar in the lobby, which features a self-serve area where customers can purchase items such as candy, soda, water and hot dogs; Cafe Cinema, where gourmet coffee and desserts will be sold, and Satellite Snack Bar, located close to the auditoriums where patrons can buy snacks without having to go back to the lobby.
She said other amenities include Lucasfilm THX-certified auditoriums, stadium seating and rocking love seats as well as real butter on the popcorn. Love seats refer to seats that rock but also have retractable arms in the middle so couples can sit next to each other.
Century 16 Santa Fe Station is part of phase two of an expansion project at Santa Fe Station Casino, slated to cost $50 million. Phase three of the expansion project, totaling $120 million, is expected to begin in August 2005 and ends in September 2006.
Station spokeswoman Gina Lateef said the movie theater helps to enhance Santa Fe Station as a local's entertainment destination, not just a casino. She said the movie theater helps the casino attract a range of consumers.
"We're just thrilled because it's a wonderful improvement to the amenities of the property," Lateef said. "We know our guests are going to love it. The way we do it is to put a mix of amenities in one place so basically anything you'd like to do is available at a Station Casino."
Klasky agreed that the theater will help enhance Santa Fe Station Casino and she said being in the casino would benefit the theater as well. She said the company is opening a theater at the South Coast when that casino opens later this year.
"There's been a major regeneration at that (Santa Fe) Station," Klasky said. "It was great to be part of that. It's really nice to be part of a local-style casino because it's a place that people that live here go to. There's always plenty of parking; it makes it more of a destination."