Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Poor local attendance
closes IMAX Waikiki

The big-screen theater
employed 21 people, who
will be transferred

IMAX Waikiki, the big-screen theater on Seaside Avenue, ceased operations Sunday. Its management said poor local attendance contributed to the decision to close the theater.

"The property has not been viable or profitable for some time," said Eileen Mortenson, a spokeswoman for the theater's owners, Consolidated Amusement Co.

Any existing group bookings for shows during the next several weeks at the theater will be honored, Mortenson said.

The theater employed 21 people, including four managers. All will go to jobs at other Consolidated theaters, she said.

The 420-seat IMAX was the last of the Waikiki theaters operated by Consolidated. Last year, the company closed its neighboring Waikiki 1, 2 and 3 theaters. The only other IMAX facility on Oahu is at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie.

IMAX movies are shot with special cameras on larger film than typical movies and are projected onto much larger screens. Combined with sound effects, the films can often give audience members a sensation of movement.

Consolidated had tried to broaden the IMAX appeal when it opened the theater in 1991 by adding major motion picture releases such as "The Lion King," Mortenson said.

While tourists and group bookings helped attendance, the theater never really attracted a steady local following, she said.

Now the plan is to incorporate the parcel of land, which is owned by Consolidated's parent, California-based Pacific Theaters, into a Waikiki redevelopment plan, Mortenson said. That plan calls for changing the site to a mix of retail establishments and restaurants.


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