Michigan-based company renovates Lyons venue into luxury cinema

By Vicky Wedig

SLN staff

Nearly a year after it closed abruptly, the former Showboat movie theater will reopen under new ownership and with a new ambience in August.

Michigan-based Emagine Entertainment purchased the Town of Lyons theater in January and has been renovating it into a luxury venue, said general manager David Colwell, who served as GM for the Geneva 4 theater when it re-opened.

The Showboat closed in early September amid speculation of a lawsuit brought forth by a movie studio that hadn’t been paid, Colwell said. The former owners have made no public statements about the theater’s closure, and the reasons for its shut-down have not been confirmed, Colwell said.

Emagine owns nine theaters and a 10th soon to open in Michigan and one in Frankfort, Ill., and operates eight theaters in Minnesota that are owned by a different company, Colwell said.

Its purchase of the former Showboat is its first venture into Wisconsin, he said.

The company has been renovating the theater and has experienced some delays with building permits but plans to have its grand opening in early August, Colwell said.

He said Emagine was the first company to have all luxury recliners and reserved seating, and the Lyons venue will also have those amenities as well as a full bar and a player piano in the lobby.

Reserved seating means that moviegoers will choose their seats when they purchase their tickets and be assured their assigned seat is available, Colwell said.

The seats will be leather recliners with seven feet between rows for room to stretch out and avoid tripping over or pushing past people.

Colwell said the ambience and some of the design elements mirror the Grand Geneva Resort.

“If you think of an upscale hotel, that’s the sort of elements they bring in,” he said.

However, the upscale feel won’t mean upscale pricing, Colwell said. The theater will not have $14.95 tickets like Marcus Theaters do, he said. Tickets will likely top out at about $10 apiece for adults for a night show like they do in the Frankfort, Ill., theater where the cost is $6 for children and $9 for students and seniors.

The theater will have 600 seats and 10 screens. The number of seats per theater will vary, he said.

The large game area the Showboat had will not be found in the new theater. It will have a couple of games, but the lobby area will be completely redesigned, Colwell said.

“I don’t think people will recognize it when they come inside,” he said.

Eight of the screens in the new theater will be in the same location the Showboat’s theaters were, and two smaller screens were added in the former lobby area, Colwell said. The front of the theater will be expanded out, and a patio will be added on the side, he said.

 
 

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