Marion’s second movie theater is getting closer to completion and the goal is to have it ready by summer, according to a social media post from Hometown Cinemas.
Late last year, a spokesman for the new owner of the old McDowell Twin Cinema building told The McDowell News that the opening date for Hometown Cinemas was delayed because of problems getting new seats. The issue was related to the trade war situation with China, said Jacob Mobley, director of marketing and social media for Movie House Investments, LLC.
Since then, The McDowell News has attempted unsuccessfully to get further updates from Mobley about the progress of the theater. A worker with the renovation said to a McDowell News reporter the goal is to have Hometown Cinemas ready by summer.
Meanwhile, work on the extensive renovation has progressed and a new colorful and brightly lit sign now graces the front of the building. Motorists on the five lane can’t help but notice it, especially at night.
An electronic message sign stands tall above the five lane as well with messages about it showing first-run movies only.
On Friday, Hometown Cinemas published an update through Facebook.
“As of now, most of the renovations are complete!” reads the post. “A large majority of the finishing touches will be going in during the next two weeks. It will appear as if we are ready to open. However, we won’t be able to because we do not have seats.
“The reason we do not have seats is due to the tariffs that were placed on Chinese exports in 2018. These tariffs did not begin to affect the movie industry until October of 2018. This caused U.S. companies to pivot from China and turn their attention to Mexico. We had to do this as well.”
The Facebook post goes on to say that the “sudden shift in the marketplace caused a large influx of orders being placed to Mexico during a short period of time.” This has in turn has produced a backlog with how long it takes for an item to be manufactured and then shipped out.
“Our seats have already been purchased,” reads the Facebook post. “We are now getting very close to our seats being manufactured! We thank all of you for being supportive throughout this entire process! The enthusiasm has been very exciting to see and hear! We feel confident that we'll be open before the summer movie schedule begins!”
In addition, the post by Hometown Cinemas addressed a rumor about the theater serving alcohol.
“That rumor is absolutely NOT true,” reads the post on Facebook. “We are a family-friendly, alcohol-free establishment. If you hear this rumor, we’d appreciate your help in squashing it! Thank you!”
When it opens, Hometown Cinemas will be the second movie theater for Marion after Mountain Marquee started showing movies in October of last year. Mountain Marquee is locally owned and offers second-run and independent films and a full restaurant menu.