After numerous discussion and plans to build a new movie theater in Sylacauga fell through, Childersburg resident Tom Cox and a friend decided to make use of what Sylacauga already had and renovate an old movie-going venue.
The old Martin Theater, located off West Fort Williams Street in the same plaza as Marble City Pharmacy, has undergone intensive renovations for the last two months and will re-open Friday, July 17, as the Stardom Theatre, provided all goes according to Cox’s plans.
“We’re novices, and we’re working on this,” Cox said, but he added he has brought in professionals from every area of the movie business to consult and prepare the place for its opening credits.
The two movie projectors will begin rolling with the all-new “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and “The Proposal,” featuring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock.
Cox and his business partner have been working not only to renovate the theater, but to make it better than it ever was, he said.
They gutted the old sound systems from each of the screening rooms – one seats 120 and the other seats 240 – and have replaced them with 16-speaker surround sound systems designed for large theaters. They have traded old projector parts and lenses for top-of-the-line new ones; expanded the concessions area to please any movie-going palate; installed a sprinkler system; dyed old walls new colors, and are spending this week cleaning everything from the roof to the foundation.
They are also installing an arcade room with 15-20 arcade games, with room to expand upstairs if necessary.
“This theater has better lights, better picture and better all-around facilities than it has ever had,” Cox said.
The co-owners have interviewed employees who are on standby, ready to come in for training on Friday for opening day, which is contingent on a final inspection and approval from the city of Sylacauga.
When Stardom Theatre does open, Cox said he thinks the business will do well.
“According to what everyone is saying on the news, even with the economy, the only market that is doing better is the movie industry,” he said. “People are seeking a vacation – escapism. They want to have entertainment and get away from it all.”
Cox isn’t sure how many employees he will need yet for the long term, but he estimated between 15 and 20.
He said the Harry Potter movie will draw a lot of movie viewers right away, if ticket sales in Birmingham are any indication. Birmingham movie theaters have sold out of tickets to the premier of the newest installation in the Harry Potter series, he said.
In the future, he hopes to offer his patrons an opportunity to purchase tickets online in advance.
“But right now we’re just trying to get open,” he said. “It’s a new adventure.”
Contingent on all going smoothly this week, the new Stardom Theatre will open Friday at 1 p.m. and plans to remain open seven days a week through the summer, with several showings every day.