Cinetopia owner envisions movie Utopia

‘High-end movie amusement park’ at mall will put emphasis on technology

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Rudyard Coltman showed a bit of Hollywood flair as he led news reporters on a tour Wednesday of his still-unfinished Cinetopia showcase theater at Westfield Vancouver mall. He wore a red hard hat while everyone else wore white ones. He handed iPads to visitors as a guide tool to emphasize how the place he calls “a high-end movie amusement park” will embrace technology.

Clearly, Coltman expects the 23-theater venue to immerse moviegoers from Clark County and beyond in an experience calculated to impress everyone from Harry Potter devotees to food connoisseurs and beer snobs.

Coltman expects to hire about 150 employees to work at the new mall venue, which will differ from his existing eight-screen Vancouver venue and its focus on fine wines and gallery of artwork.

“That is sort of a house of blues meets art gallery. Here, it will be very high-tech and state of the art,” he said. “It’s Cinetopia meets technology.”

The $18 million project will include more than 2,600 seats for moviegoers in venues that range from intimate, 50-patron parlor-stlye theaters to its main, 400-seat auditorium. It will carry 50 different varieties of beer on tap at its brew pub and concession stand upstairs, where Cinetopia’s Living Room theaters will be devoted to the 21-and-older crowd. On the ground floor, 14 movie venues will include three “grand” theaters with 70-foot-wide screens and one with an 80-foot-wide screen that is being billed as the largest screen on the West Coast.

“It’s like a suite in a hotel meets the movie world, meets resort,” Coltman said.

The highest-price movie ticket will be $18.50, and many prices will be lower than competing theaters, he said.

Cinetopia’s two-story site once housed the Mervyns department store at the mall, off state Highway 500 near Interstate 205.

Officials from Westfield Vancouver’s parent company haven’t disclosed the shopping center’s agreement with Cinetopia, which is poised to draw new movie patrons to the 940,230-square-foot shopping center. But mall managers are clearly pleased by the prospect, said Scot Vallee, a developer with the Westfield Group, which operates a global portfolio of 119 shopping malls in the United States, Austrailia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

“He (Coltman) is way ahead of the curve when it comes to theaters and technology,” Vallee said.

Coltman said the venue could open in mid-May at the earliest. It is the third Cinetopia location. He opened the company’s eight-screen theater in east Vancouver in 2005. His second project, a Beaverton, Ore., theater complex with 14 screens, opened in May at the Progress Ridge Town Center mall.

Wednesday’s media tour verified the construction work is nearing completion. The movie complex goes hand in hand with the mall’s newly completed interior makeover, a revamp that includes new seating areas, carpeting, glass railing, restrooms and escalators.

Cinetopia, which missed its originally planned December opening date, appears to be on track to open with a slate of new summer blockbusters.

The bones of the entertainment venue are in place, although workers are still coating walls and hanging light fixtures.

Coltman admitted it could take an uncertain amount of time to install the venue’s state-of-the-art equipment, including digital projectors costing between $80,000 and $100,000 apiece and a high-end sound system.

The remaining work also includes digital lighting that will dress up Cinetopia’s upstairs and downstairs interior entrances. Workers will also finish built-in shadow boxes designed to tell screenplay stories along hallways that will give the illusion of lit-up movie posters.

Parts of the entire theater and its outdoor marquee will be advertised with the intense colors of LED lighting.

“We’ll have a date (for the opening) very shortly,” said Coltman, the sole owner of Cinetopia.