Cinema Center expanding movie options

The city’s only downtown movie is expanding its options for customers.

“We just began last week to renovate two of our larger auditoriums to make two into four to increase the screen (number) from nine to 11,” said Les Barnhart, general manager of Digiplex Cinema Center, 300 W. Fourth St.

The theatre owners formally were granted approval after getting a landlord’s waiver Wednesday from the city Redevelopment Authority.

Barnhart said it gives the company flexibility to show limited-releases such as “August Osage County” and “Nebraska,” quality movies that don’t necessarily appeal to mainstream audiences.

“The renovated theaters will look as the rest of the building, with stadium seating and the same sound system,” he said.

Most of the work has been done in the morning to prevent any concerns for customers. The theater plans to have the construction completed in eight weeks, he said.

“We apologize for the loss of parking space for patrons,” Barnhart said.

“We support the business as the screens are going from two large to four smaller ones to provide more movie opportunities for customers,” said Phillip E. Preziosi, chairman of the authority meeting to approve a landlord waiver agreement.

The agreement, approved by fellow authority members P. Nayo Brown, James W. Graham and Jennifer Matz, was signed because the city is the landlord of the property leased by the theater.

The cinema was built in 2007. It pays the city and Williamsport Parking Authority $10,000-a-year in rent split between the city and authority, said John Grado, city engineer and director of community and economic development.

The theater has a 29-year lease agreement with the city, he said.