Regal pushes expansion, adds five giant-screen theaters

Despite a sharp drop in 4Q profit and a decline in ticket sales, Regal Entertainment Group isn’t backing off expansion plans.

The Knoxville-based company announced this week the addition of five new giant- screen theaters in locations nationwide.

Construction has started on new Regal Premium Experience theaters in Chicago and Houston, Regal said today. Earlier this week, the company announced plans to add three new IMAX locations — San Diego, Long Island and Washington, D.C.

Regal currently has 11 RPX screens in eight cities and more than 30 IMAX screens in theaters across the country, including one in Knoxville at the Pinnacle 18 theater in Turkey Creek. Regal announced last year that it had cut a deal with IMAX Corp. to add up to 25 new IMAX screens.

In addition to adding new giant-screen locations, Regal announced this month it was getting into the movie distribution business with the creation of Open Road Films, a joint venture with AMC Entertainment Inc.

Regal has made a hefty investment in giant-screen technology, but the long-term pay off depends on movie-goers paying premium prices for the big-screen experience and movie makers producing films worthy of big screen presentation.

“We’ve seen a strong preference by our patrons to choose the superior presentation offered by IMAX,” President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Dunn said in a press release. “Our patrons appreciate the crystal clear images and impressive IMAX sound systems. Regal looks forward to the terrific slate of IMAX films scheduled for release this year.” 

Personally, I think the giant-screen investment makes sense — it’s an excellent way for theater operators to compete in an crowded entertainment world. Time will tell if it pays off for Regal stockholders.