More than two years after construction began on a new movie theater in the UW Plaza, Studio City UW+ ARQ is slated to open its doors April 28, a Movie Palace representative said.
Featuring 10 auditoriums including the ARQ, a premium large-format auditorium equipped with a 62-foot-wide screen that wraps toward the audience, the theater is the latest addition to Movie Palace’s statewide cinemas.
“It’s like coming home for me,” Movie Palace Vice President Craig Hosey said. “I grew up going to the old Fox Theater (in downtown Laramie).”
To benefit Make-a-Wish Wyoming, Hosey said the theater will host a soft opening April 28-30 by showing “The LEGO Batman Movie,” “Logan,” “Kong: Skull Island,” “A Dog’s Purpose” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” for $2 a ticket.
“All the proceeds will go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation,” Hosey said.
The event is scheduled to be followed by a free open house May 3 and a grand opening to coincide with Marvel’s newest blockbuster, he said.
“We’re going to open big with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’” Hosey said. “I love that movie.”
Growing up in Laramie, Hosey said he developed a passion for movies early on.
“The last movie I saw at the old Fox was probably ‘Eye of Sinbad’ in 1964,” he said.
But it would be another 20 years before Hosey founded Movie Palace with Mike Ito and Randy Pryde to reopen a classic movie theater in Casper.
From there, the business grew as the company acquired and built more movie theaters throughout the state.
“The reason we’re building a theater in Laramie is Mick McMurry approached us and said he was going to take over the plaza and we’d like you guys to run the theater,” Hosey said. “I always wanted to come back here anyway.”
Contractors originally broke ground on the theater in 2014, but the project suffered several delays including McMurry’s death and switching general contractors.
With film becoming little more than movie industry history, the new theater will only use digital projectors, Hosey said.
“We’d said they’ll never replace film — they’ll never do it,” he said. “And now, it’s perfect.”
In today’s industry, movies are downloaded via satellite or delivered on a hard drive, Movie Palace General Manager Cory Witte said.
“The hard drive is about the size of a candy box,” Hosey said. “It’s a lot easier than carrying those heavy film canisters up the stairs for an old guy like me.”
Encrypted with a key code, access to the video file expires after an amount of time set by the studio, Witte said.
Another technological upgrade in the new theater is electric recliners with foot rests, Hosey said.
“It cuts the seating about in half, but we’ve found people don’t want to go to movies without the electric recliners,” he said.
The theater’s ARQ auditorium could seat up to 130 people, the medium auditoriums could seat about 92 people, and the theater’s smallest auditorium could seat about 46, Witte said.
To combat sound bleed in the auditoriums, Witte said each room is separated by four layers of drywall and sound-dampening wall panels.
In addition to a new place to watch the latest movies, the theater could create up to 40 new jobs in Laramie, Hosey said.