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April 24, 2019

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Photos: Maya Cinemas, the vision of activist Moctesuma Esparza, opens in North Las Vegas

Maya Cinemas Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Christopher DeVargas

A first look at the new state-of-the-art Maya Cinemas during their grand opening celebration in North Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 10, 2019.

Maya Cinemas Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Members of Xochipilli Danza Azteca Las Vegas help celebrate the grand opening of Maya Cinemas' newest theater at 2195 N. Las Vegas Blvd. Thursday Jan. 10, 2019. Launch slideshow »

Mariachi music flooded the air, members of the dance team Xochipilli Danza Azteca Las Vegas stood by ready to perform and Las Vegas Paiute Tribe officials blessed the grounds as part of a ceremony Thursday to open the Maya Cinemas in North Las Vegas.

The theater, anchoring the North Las Vegas downtown redevelopment project at 2195 Las Vegas Blvd. North, marries the nostalgic cinema experience of CEO Moctesuma Esparza’s childhood with technological advancements.

“I want to share a little bit about why this building is here and about the commitment that we have made as a company, Maya Cinemas, to having the absolute state-of-the-art technology and design and innovation as part of this theater,” said Esparza, the Mexican-American entertainment executive and community activist. “For me, movie-going is tied to the most cherished memories that I had as a child, being with my dad and my family. We used to go to the movies every week.”

Attending the movies has sentimental value for Esparza, who would use the movie-going experience to spend time with his working-class father as a child. Those formative memories motivated him to create engulfing experiences in his theater for others.

The two-story, 14-screen North Las Vegas theater offers amenities such as D-Box seating, RealD 3D and Maya MPX while also paying tribute to older theatrical elements by including crying rooms in its design.

Maya Cinemas, which also has locations in California, is the only theater chain in the U.S. to have an entire room of D-Box seating. The North Las Vegas theater is only the second location to have them. The appeal of D-BOX seats is that they emulate the action in a film by vibrating or moving and create a more immersive movie experience, said D-Box CEO Claude McMaster, who attended the opening.

RealD 3D is compatible with movies shown in three dimensions, and the Maya MPX experience is offered in both 2D and 3D but includes other technological features, like 360-degree sound.

Investing in technology like this, Esparza hopes to give the community a place to create memories like his. That’s why he made the theater family-friendly, with crying rooms for parents to be able to watch a film while tending to their young children.

“These moments where we would go to the cinema are cherished; they are the moments that I remember about family, about being together, about learning about the world,” Esparza said. “That all was achieved in the conversations with my dad, my family and watching movies — and watching with a big crowd where we all laughed together, cried together, we got scared together. ... That’s the beauty and the promise of storytelling in the 21st century.”