Marcus hopes to enhance moviegoers’ experience with new Sun Prairie theater
As theater chains across the country vie for consumers’ attention amid technological advances in entertainment options, Marcus Theatre’s new Sun Prairie Palace Cinema promises to take moviegoers beyond their traditional experiences.
The Palace, which broke ground May 14 in the Prairie Lakes development, will be the Milwaukee company’s first new theater in Wisconsin since 2007 and will offer a package of amenities not before seen anywhere in the state. “We’re building 12 premium, state-of-the-art, best-in-class theaters,” said Rolando Rodriguez, president and CEO of Marcus Theatres.
Each will include red leather reclining seats, and all seats will be reserved, either online beforehand or by selecting a seat from an electronic map upon arrival. (If you’re not a member of the Marcus loyalty program, advance online reservations will cost extra.)
Four of the 12 theaters will be designated Big Screen Bistro auditoriums, where customers will be able to order and have food and drinks delivered to their seats simply by pressing a button to hail a member of the wait staff. Aisles will be widened to accommodate the activity and lessen distractions.
Two UltraScreen DLX auditoriums will offer upgraded sound systems and extra-large screens.
Entertainment will be available outside the theaters as well. Zaffiro’s Express pizza will be on-site, and a Take Five Lounge will boast a full bar, food menu, and even have a large projector TV for televised sporting events.
And if you’re worried about the cost of such extravagance, tickets will cost only five bucks on Tuesdays.
Marcus Theatres owns Eastgate Cinemas just down the road on High Crossing Boulevard. That site was not conducive to the upgrades the company wanted to make, according to Rodriguez, adding that the company has been discussing this plan for about six years.
“Sun Prairie has been very, very embracing. Super supportive. Besides that, they’re building a phenomenal trade area there,” he said, noting the recent additions of Costco, Woodman’s, Target, and others. Eastgate will remain open through the new theater’s construction.
The Sun Prairie Palace Cinema complex, at Legacy Way and Hoepker Road, doesn’t have to sell out auditoriums to be successful. “Even if an auditorium is 40% sold, that’s a lot of people,” Rodriguez said. It’s all about giving the public what it wants. “We want to be able to show the customers all the new movies that come out.”
If local demand is high enough, Marcus is prepared to add four theaters to the Sun Prairie location. “The reality is, it is economically challenging to just build one [theater],” Rodriguez explained. “It’s already in the plan, and we hope consumer demand would make that possible.” A decision on expanding even further could come fairly soon after the complex opens, which is expected to happen by November — weather, of course, permitting.
In the end, Marcus hopes the new theater complex will lengthen the public’s entertainment experience, which will translate into more dollars for Marcus, more dollars at the box office, and more money in the pockets of babysitters, if Mom and Dad’s two-hour movie turns into a four-hour evening out.
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