The tour was advertised as by invitation only, but door attendants dressed in black tuxedoes and evening gowns turned no one away at the door.
“I think it’s beautiful,” said Bonnie Gilson of Cleveland.
Billy Case, also of Cleveland, said, “I think it is a good addition to the community and I think it will do well.” The new theater complex at Bradley Square Mall is closer to home and when he does go to the movies, “I will probably come here,” Case said.
Bradley County Commission Chair Louie Alford said he was amazed.
“It’ a beautiful, beautiful building. I am really looking forward to seeing some movies here,” he said. “I think this is a real asset to Bradley County and Cleveland simply because it is going to be a real asset to the mall.”
Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson had a similar reaction.
“I think it’ great. It looks really, really good. I’m excited and anxious to see a movie,” he said.
Everything about the 12-screen theater is designed to enhance moviegoers’ experiences from the time they walk into the door to time they leave.
Carmike Cinemas Director of Marketing Terrell Mayton said customers will walk into the lobby decorated in a color scheme designed to bring light into the large, wide open space. The main lobby and an anteroom between the theater and mall can hold about 2,000 people. The total seating capacity is about 2,300.
“If it’s raining outside, we can get people in here real quick and keep them dry. If it is cold and snowing, we can get them in here and keep them warm,” he said. “People like a big, open airy feel and they like the high-boy tables where people can chat and have conversation, wait for friends to come and meet them here.”
The traditional ticket booth is absent from the new theater where customers purchase tickets and a full range of concessions at the same counter.
“People will come to the (refreshment) counter where they will order their concessions, pick up their tickets and then they’ll move to their seating,” he said. “It’s a one-stop shop.”
Guests get their cups and move next to a “Popcorn Factory” located on both sides of the lobby for popcorn and Coca-Cola products from an automated drink dispenser.
“This is Coca-Cola’s Freestyle. It will pump 123 different flavors. They are state-of-the-art in terms of beverage vending,” he said. “It has all kinds of different features. It can read codes and you can mix and match so you can have Diet Coke and put lime in it. It will produce your own mix. You can have any mix you want.”
And — the drinks are unlimited in terms of refills.
“This is also where you’ll get your popcorn. You’ll have your bag, fill it up and you can bring your bag and get it refilled again,” he said.
If that’s not enough, then Carmike sells a popcorn bucket for $17.50 a year. Bring the bucket to the theater and fill it for $3.50.
“Everything is built to serve our guests with speed,” Mayton said. “Carmike really concentrates on two things: being friendly and providing an incredible guest experience. The other thing is the presentation of the movie.”
Cleveland is the 14th city to have the “Big D” screen. There will be 25 with that format by the end of 2013.
“We’re putting, in Cleveland, a state-of-the-art theater with the world’s leading large format auditorium,” Mayton said. “We think Cleveland is a great moviegoing community. We think the region with all of its recreation, the paddle sports [on area waterways], all of the things that people do, if they come into town and want to see a movie — here it is.”
He said people who travel and have been to other big screens will come to Bradley Square 12, which spins off other activity in the mall.
The entrance to the “Big D” auditorium is elegantly designed. A doorman dressed in a tuxedo opens the door, welcomes guests and takes tickets.
“This is the ultimate moviegoing experience,” he said.
The screen is more than 70 feet wide and 3 1/2 stories high. Proprietary lenses project images from edge to edge instead of letterboxing the movie on the screen. The screen is coated with an ultra-bright luminescent coating that adds brightness to the screen. The projector projects about 30,000 lumens onto the screen.
“When you take that bright screen, the tight focus and the edge-to-edge picture, it puts about 34 trillion colors up on the screen that makes it look like an HDTV on steroids,” he said.
The speaker system is 7.1-surround sound and designed for upgrading to 11.0, which is not yet made.
“All we do is scalable to the next technology. This auditorium will not be old in 10 years,” he said.
The large format auditorium features leather seats. The 11 smaller auditoriums are equipped with comfortable cloth seats and 5.1 surround sound audio.
“All of our auditoriums are designed for people who love movies,” he said.
In addition to movies, there is a room for small children’s parties. Carmike Cinemas also show ballets, operas and sporting events through fiber optics or satellite.
“We think entertainment is more than just movies. Of course, entertainment is the core of what we do, but we know people like to see things in a comfortable seat, eat popcorn, have a drink and be with friends,” he said.
The theater opens to the public at midnight with “The Hobbit” presented in the “Big D” auditorium.
Carmike Cinemas Inc. is opening the Bradley Square 12 at 7 p.m. with a selection of recent blockbuster movies throughout the complex. The charity grand-opening night will feature $1 admission with $1 small popcorn and $1 small drinks. All proceeds from the evening benefit The Ronald McDonald House which provides a "home away from home" for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.