SALEM - A local family is investing in Salem with a complete overhaul of the former Salem Twin Cinema.
The family of Natalee and Jock Buta wanted to bring movies back to Salem and provide families and kids with a safe place to see movies but with the latest video and audio technology.
The upgrades include state-of-the-art equipment, wider seats and "rumble seats" and amenities for handicapped viewers.
The Salem twin Cinema closed last fall. The new owners hope to reopen in August. (Salem News photo by Ron Firth)
The theater is located in the Salem Plaza and was closed by the former owners last fall, citing the prohibitive cost to upgrade to digital equipment.
The theater opened in the early 1970s according to a sign permit issued in November of 1972.
The new theater, expected to open later this summer, will be named the Salem Digital Cinema and Jock Buta said it will give local movie fans "big city" digital films with several movie experience varieties.
"It's intended to provide a unique movie experience that is expected to draw people from all over," he said.
Buta explained the Twin Cinema had been the only "first run" movie theater in the entire county, before closing in last November.
"Feature films are back," he said, and in High Definition Digital format.
Both theaters will be fitted with brand new digital projectors, displaying 2K HD films onto two brand-new screens, larger than the former cinema screens.
One of the theaters will be installed with a 3D projection system, periodically offering the latest high definition 3D movies.
"We've created variations of the movie experience that not only utilize the latest digital projection and sound technology, but include many seating options," he said.
Both theaters also will be outfitted with 240 brand new 23-inch wide seats, each with cup holder and "rocker" backs.
Buta explained the theater will have fewer seats to accommodate the significantly wider chairs and give more leg room.
The center row in each of the theaters will provide an "enhanced" movie seat experience with "rumble seats" that let movie watchers "feel" the movie.
All front row seats will be wide recliners with footrests.
The backrow seats in each theater will be high back VIP seats, adjacent to wheelchair spots.
In fact, Buta said, the new theater will include many amenities catering to handicapped persons.
In addition to the deluxe wheelchair companion seats in each theater, a new ADA bathroom will be built and a section of the concession counter will be built at a wheelchair friendly height.
A feature not seen anywhere around here will be two private screening rooms, located in the fully refurbished former projection rooms.
Each room will have six VIP seats with have table space, individual lights, and their own surround sound system. A glass window will allow the guests to view the projection screen from the six-foot elevated room, and provide for talking without disturbing the main movie guests.
The Buta's expect to attract many out-of-town movie-goers with the unique movie experience.
The owners are considering allowing the variety of enhanced seated rows and private rooms to be reserved, say after a pre-movie birthday party. They expect to hire 4 to 5 part-time employees, as well as their two sons.
Buta said: "While we haven't set tickets prices yet, we're considering similar pricing to the former theater, and are keeping in mind the need to offer prices reasonable for the Salem area. We're hoping to open in September, but will try for August."