by Gary Chapman
A movie theater opened at Alton Square Mall in Alton, Ill. on Tuesday, Mar. 30, with showings starting on the following Wednesday. The theater is in the space formerly occupied by Sears, which closed in 2012.
The theater is run by the Neighborhood Cinema Group chain, who are also opening a theater in Waterloo, Ill. The theater opened to the media with screenings of “Wonder Women 1984” and “Tom and Jerry”. This is the first theater to be in the city of Alton since the Wehrenberg Alton Twin Cine closed in March, 1998.
The press conference was hosted by Andy Likes of the Van, and had talks from NCG Cinema CEO Jeff Geiger, Alton Mayor Brant Walker, second ward alderman Carolyn MacAfee and Alton Director of Planning & Development Greg Caffey.
In a press statement, Mayor Walker stated that, “It gives the public a chance to take a break from the current stresses we all face and enjoy a show. NCG and this theater also create dozens of jobs critical to our local economy.”
Mayor Walker also added that tenants have been interested in renting space in the mall, and that the Hull Group, who own the mall, have been doing a good job in running it and backed Alton with the movie theater.
Jeff Geiger noted that the HVAC system was state of the art and that it cost “hundreds and thousands of dollars” due to the infrared cleaning system. He also stated that private theater rentals are available, and that party rooms, which can hold 15 people, can be rented.
The theater was a public-private partnership and funded by a special district tax with the mall, according to Mayor Walker.
“This is a great day for Alton,” MacAfee said, “City Officials have worked for decades to bring residents a new movie theater, and today, we are seeing those efforts become a reality.”
Every theater has reclining seats and the concessions are self-serve. The popcorn is dispensed via a machine, with buttons releasing the popcorn and the butter topping. They also sell cheese popcorn and caramel corn as well as beer and wine. You can order concessions online.
You can not enter the theater from inside the mall, as the former Sears entrance is blocked on that end.
The theater is open as of writing, with the current films playing being “Godzilla vs. Kong”, “Nobody”, “Tom and Jerry” and “Raya and the Last Dragon”