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StarBulletin.com

Show time at Laie


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POSTED: Friday, July 17, 2009

The lights went out at Laie Cinemas about a year and a half ago, but the lights come back on today for its rebirth as Laie Palms Cinemas.

Laie residents Don and Alicen Nielsen have renovated the small, two-screen movie theater from top to bottom, and are debuting with “;Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”; and “;Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”;

“;We're going to run it as an independent movie theater,”; said Don Nielsen. “;We're going to show some first-run movies, some maybe a week after the release date, some foreign movies, film festivals and surf movies. Because we're independent, we're going to run it differently than a lot of other movie theaters.”;

Laie Cinemas, formerly run by Hollywood Theaters of Oregon, closed down last April, leaving the North Shore void of any movie theaters.

Hollywood President Scott Wallace told the Star-Bulletin then that the theater was not getting the volume it needed and that the decision to close it was purely economic.

Wallace said at the time that two- and four-screen theaters across the nation were becoming obsolete and being replaced with more contemporary megaplex theaters.

But Nielsen believes there is a niche for an independently run community theaters, which have more flexibility in the kinds of movies they can run.

Tickets at Laie Palms will be priced lower than multi-plex theaters.

There will be at least one matinee during the week, said Nielsen, and more showings on Saturday; the theater will be closed on Sundays.

Nielsen, who has a background in banking and finance, described Laie Palms Cinemas as a quaint community theater and said it would not be competing with Consolidated Theatres or Regal Movie Theaters, which run most multiplex theaters on Oahu.

The Nielsens moved to Laie a year ago from San Luis Obispo, Calif., so that Alicen Nielsen could pursue a degree in art and anthropology at BYU-Hawaii.

When they learned that Laie Cinemas had closed, they were inspired to reopen it.

“;We're real movie nuts,”; explained Don Nielsen.

Landowner Hawaii Reserves Inc. agreed to a lease earlier this year, and renovations began in the spring.

Work on the 235-seat theater included a new roof, new walls and air conditioners, an improved sound system and a renovated lobby and concession stand.

The interior features an old-Hawaiiana theme, said Nielsen, who described it as a “;nostalgic-type theater”; that will offer popcorn with real butter.

Longtime Laie resident and mother Judy Keys is thrilled that the theater is reopening. Keys, who organized a rally protesting the theater's closure last year, said it is essential to have entertainment in town for the kids.

“;It's a very good thing because we really have nothing out on the North Shore,”; said Keys.

“;Everything for entertainment for our kids is an hour away.

“;It's good to keep our kids off the road.”;