After almost a year of renovations and much anticipation, Hometown Cinemas Marion is finally ready to start showing movies.
The new first-run movie theater for Marion will open its doors and begin showing feature films on Friday. The first two movies to be shown are “The Secret Life of Pets 2” and “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.”
The renovated theater has a total of around 500 seats with 250 for each auditorium. These cushioned seats can recline and have cupholders. The spaces between the rows are wider to accommodate people walking in front of others who are watching the screen. There are spaces accessible to people with disabilities. Each auditorium has a modern digital projector and a Dolby 7.1 surround sound system with QSC speakers.
“There’s not a bad seat in this house,” said owner Alvin Kennedy.
Kennedy is with Movie House Investments, LLC and is the owner of Hometown Cinemas Marion. His firm is based in Florence, S.C. and he owns other movie theaters in South Carolina. He said this is his only movie theater in North Carolina but he used to own the Yancey Theater in Burnsville.
The approximately 40-year-old McDowell Twin Cinema building, which closed in 2014, has been totally transformed inside and out. The exterior has new paint with a very colorful and brightly lit sign gracing the front of the building. It is eye-catching, especially at night. Motorists on the five lane can’t help but notice it.
The inside lobby, concession stand and restrooms have been redone with updated interiors. The concession stand will serve popcorn, Pepsi products, lemonade, nachos and candy.
Even the parking lot has been upgraded.
The hallways are decorated with photos from classic movies and Hollywood legends like John Wayne, Frankenstein’s monster and Alfred Hitchcock.
The price for an evening show is $8 for adults and children. Matinees cost $6 for adults and children.
“It’s great movies and great prices, a heck of a deal for six and eight bucks,” said Kennedy. “And the best popcorn in the business. My special recipe and no, I will not share it.”
Kennedy said he considers those prices to be a discount for everybody. “If you go to Asheville or Morganton, the prices are much higher,” he added.
As for the schedule, it will vary depending on when school is in session. When students are in school from August through June, Hometown Cinemas will have only two showings a day from Monday through Thursday at 5 and 7 p.m. On Fridays, it will have showings at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. during the school year.
On Saturdays and Sundays year-round, there will be movies shown at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m.
But during the summer months when kids are out from school, movies will be shown at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m. every day.
Kennedy said his theater plans to host school groups and events for people with special needs.
Angie Leach of Yancey County will be the manager of the movie theater.
“We have known Angie for years, and we are super excited to have her join our team,” reads a statement on Facebook. “Angie brings years of professional cinema experience to this job. She is extremely customer friendly and knows every aspect of the business.”
In addition to movies, Hometown Cinemas will display ads for local businesses.
“It’s a nice way to help small businesses,” he said.
When the opening date was announced, numerous people responded enthusiastically through social media.
“Yay!!!! So excited! Can’t wait to have something for my kids to do - local!!!!” wrote Kendall Waugh.
“One of the first steps in turning McDowell County around! It was a great place before and it can be again. Let’s make our home something people will want to enjoy and explore,” wrote Carlee Sandlin.
“So excited!! We have been anxiously waiting for the grand opening!!!
Congratulations and best of luck with the new business !!!” wrote Karla Smith Holdren.
Last summer, real estate agents Jacque Gouge Mentink and Chelsi Mentink Poteat with ERA Mountain View Properties in Marion announced that a new buyer has closed on the old McDowell Twin Cinema, which closed in 2014. Since then, Kennedy’s team has been hard at work to renovate a building many thought would never open again.
“I had so many people tell me this building can never be used,” he said to The McDowell News. “Well, look at it now. It’s a new building basically.”
For more information, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HTCMarion/. You can also find updates on the web site: http://hometowncinemasmarion.com/?fbclid=IwAR1PKbHGVznyhaOpxhCu52DNyRQfMMoroBgcvDZYSTVvFW5WmwBcWLEvBsA. The movie info phone number is 559-2776.