After over a year of construction, Glendale's Five Star Cinema is open and its owners are betting that Glendale residents are ready to pay premium prices, such as almost $20 per ticket, for a luxury movie-going experience.
The theater, which was originally slated to open in autumn of 2012, has taken over the former Mann 10 theater complex at Maryland and Wilson avenues and an adjacent restaurant, turning the roughly 60,000-square-foot location into a complex with 10 screens, two full bars and a restaurant.
The theater held a soft opening on Wednesday, with two screens operating. All of the screens are expected to be open by Monday, said Harry Aslanian, the theater's executive manager.
The project took longer than expected to complete because of the extensive retrofitting necessary to bring the property up-to-date, Aslanian said.
"With every project, remodeling takes longer than new construction, when you're retrofitting with new technology," he said. "We did it as we fast as we can, again being supported by the city."
Earlier this year, the complex was listed on a website promoting a showing of the Jamie Kennedy comedy "Lost and Found in Armenia" in June. However, the complex wasn't completed in time and producers moved the film to Pacific Theatres for a limited run.
Aslanian said the theater had been in discussions to show the film, but wasn't physically ready to host a screening at that time.
Now that the upscale complex is done, a $19.75 ticket — $16.75 for matinees — puts a theater-goer in a large, reclining lounge chair, with a call button that can be used to summon a waiter. In-theater dining includes the usual movie concessions as well as more upscale options like tuna tartare, braised short ribs and squash stuffed ravioli. Beer, wine and cocktails are also sold.
There is a one-time charge of $3.50 for in-theater dining, even if a patron is only buying a beer.
The complex, which will focus on first-run features, has a total of 497 seats divided among its 10 screens, with the largest auditoriums containing 104 seats, and other screening rooms ranging from 30 to 84 seats.
The theater is part of the larger Five Star Cinema chain, based in Russia, that has 13 locations in Russia and Armenia.
Aslanian said that when the business is fully operational he expects to have about 100 employees for the theater, bar and restaurant.
Aslanian said he expects the theater to host an official grand opening sometime in late September to early October.
The theater's Frame128 restaurant and in-theater dining options are being prepared by Foundation Hospitality Group, which is run by managing partner Jay Perrin and chef Eric Greenspan, of the Foundry on Melrose in Los Angeles.
Greenspan said he thought Glendale would provide plenty of business for the theater and restaurant, even though they operate at a higher price point than other theaters and some restaurants in the area.
"I'm never one to think, 'Is a region ready for something that's quality?'" he said. "Is it good or not? That's what matters."