Regal to install IMAX theater in Ocala

Ocala's Hollywood 16 movie theater, shown in this file photo, is adding an IMAX theater.

Dave Schlenker/Star-Banner
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 6, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.

The really, REALLY big screen is coming to Ocala.


Ocala's Hollywood 16 movie theater, shown in this file photo, is adding an IMAX theater.

Dave Schlenker/Star-Banner

A spokesman for Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Entertainment Group confirmed Friday that an IMAX system will be installed at the Hollywood 16 movie complex on Southwest 19th Avenue Road by the end of the year.

“It'll be real IMAX, not the RPX: Regal Premium Experience,” said Richard M. Grover, director of marketing and communications.

He said Regal officials with more details about the Ocala installation would be available Monday to offer specifics on the project. “But I did want to confirm that IMAX is coming to our Hollywood 16 in the fourth quarter,” he said.

On that timetable, one of the existing auditoriums in the complex will be converted to the ultra-big screen format. Moreover, if it's completed by mid-November, one of the first films shown in the new arena could be “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” or “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Both films are the second installments in popular franchises.

“Catching Fire” is scheduled for release Nov. 22 and “The Hobbit” is scheduled for Dec. 13. Since 2000, more and more major films have been released in an IMAX format at the same time as their wide release. The first full-length Hollywood feature released as an IMAX film was “Fantasia 2000” in December 1999.

Until now, the closest IMAX screens have been in Orlando, Tampa and at Golf World near St. Augustine. But Regal and some of its rival chains in recent years have been attempting to increase access to IMAX or IMAX-like experiences by converting existing facilities to a big-screen format, according to the online BigScreen Cinema Guide.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported the iconic Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was converted to IMAX over the summer and will reopen as the renamed TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX later this month with a special showing of “The Wizard of Oz” in 3-D.

On its website, Regal lists 76 theater complexes containing an IMAX theater; Regal IMAX theaters in Florida are located in Fort Myers, Sunrise and two in Orlando.

Reaction to the news on Facebook was swift and mostly positive. “Yes!” “Wonderful idea!” and “In a heartbeat” were among some of the quick comments posted.

“Would be awesome, and I think the price is relative to where you are,” wrote Tracey Hale Cauthen. But Susan Parke-Alligood was thinking more southwest than Easy Street: “We need something in Dunnellon!”

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