Los Angeles-based Pacific Theatres announced the groundbreaking of its $25-million, 25-screen megaplex in the San Fernando Valley.

The 5,700-seat Pacific Entertainment Center complex – the largest ever built by the 391-screen Pacific chain – is being built on the 25-acre site of the former Winnetka Drive-in in Chatsworth. The 100,000-square-foot multiplex will serve as the prototype for future conversions of Pacific-owned drive-in theaters including theaters in Anaheim and Fresno. (See related story, page 4.)

The theater complex will serve as an anchor for the site, with the remaining property around the Pacific complex being developed for retail and restaurant tenants.

The Pacific Entertainment Center will feature in its theaters wall-to-wall screens and all three digital stereo sound systems presently available to exhibitors: SDDS, DTS and Dolby Digital. All auditoriums will be built according to Lucas THX specifications and will have stadium-style, high-back seating with retractable armrests and cupholders. The main lobby will feature three separate concession stands.

One of the highlights of the theaters will be a box office technology, “Film & Food,” that will allow patrons to buy concession items at the same time they purchase their tickets. The concession stand then will prepare the orders and have them ready for pick-up upon entering the theater.

“We are constantly striving to make the moviegoing experience as pleasant as possible with such innovative ideas as our silent in-theater paging system and the new Film & Food service,” said Chan Wood, Pacific’s exec VP, head film buyer and director of marketing. “We will continue to stay on the cutting edge of technology and provide customers with quality amenities, premium service and a comfortable viewing environment.”

The Pacific Chatsworth complex is scheduled to open during summer ’97. Since the complex is only a few miles from Pacific’s Northridge Theaters, there is a chance the new center will cannibalize the older theater. Wood said the company is still considering what it might do with the 10-screen Northridge theater once the new complex is built.

As part of its rapidly accelerating expansion strategy, Pacific also is building a 14-screen multiplex in Claremont, and the 15-screen Gaslamp Theaters in San Diego, both of which will be completed by the end of 1997.

Last month, Pacific opened its newest multiplex, the 16-screen Beach Cities Cinemas in Manhattan Beach.

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