Tuesday, Jul 06 2010 06:38 PM

Regency Theatres coming to East Hills Mall

BY HILLARY HAENES, Californian staff writer

The United Artists East Hills Mall theater closed a little more than a week ago, and there is already word that Regency Theatres will take its place.

"We can't wait for the theater to open. It's great for the mall. It's great for Bakersfield," said Anne Lynch, director of business development at East Hills Mall.

The 10-screen complex will offer discount movies and concession foods, including $1 hot dogs.

"We see it as a great opportunity to do a discount policy there. I think it's a good fit for the market," said Andrew Golin, vice president of Regency Theatres.

The theater plans a July 30 opening.

Although the price has not been finalized, Golin said movie admission could be as inexpensive as $2 per person.

"We'd go like every weekend. I came down for an application today," said mall shopper Summer Provience, who heard about a new theater opening.

Even though there is already a discount theater in Bakersfield, Starplex Cinemas on California Avenue, Lynch said there is enough distance between them.

"I hope the cheapness doesn't affect the quality," said mall shopper Morgan Poe.

There have been similar theaters in other locations that have opened and done well, Golin said. This is the sixth discount theater the Southern California-based company will open.

"It's going to generate a lot of excitement. People need to get out, relax and have fun," Lynch said.

With the state of the economy, discount prices are especially convenient for families.

"It stretches your dollar. I think it will bring a different breed of people in the mall because it's cheaper," said David Bumgardner, who often took his family to United Artists because the theater was clean, the sodas were refillable and the prices were a little cheaper than other theaters in town.

According to Golin, one or two of the 10 screens will show foreign films.

"Independent films would be the coolest thing," Bumgardner said.

He and his wife enjoy watching Anime and foreign movies. Bumgardner also said he'd love to take his daughters to see old classic movies on the big screen and introduce them to other cultures.

"It'd be nice if they'd bring Japanese Anime, that's what I sell," said Vicky Suppiah, owner of Write on Time II Japanese Anime & Gifts in the mall.

When a blockbuster movie arrives in theaters, it doesn't affect her Anime business.

"It doesn't necessarily mean my sales will increase that day, but it does increase the traffic of the mall," Suppiah said.

Ken Mattlin, manager at KMA Sunglasses & More, said his niche store has a base of customers regardless of what other tenants are in the mall.

"We're happy to see mall management work with other companies and bring in new faces that will be beneficial to all," said Mattlin, whose shop has been in the same spot for 13 years.

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