Armed only with a can of food as the price of admission, hundreds of people turned out Thursday night for the grand opening of Century 16, the new state-of-the-art theater complex at 3300 South State on an 8.41-acre site that was formerly home to the old Prudential Federal Savings building and the "igloo-style" Century 21 theaters.
The festivities began at 5 p.m. with a film-cutting ceremony by representatives of South Salt Lake and Century Theatres, based in San Rafael, Calif. A reception benefiting the Utah Youth Village was followed by the "Canned Film Festival" benefiting the Utah Food Bank. Patrons were admitted to the inaugural screening by donating a non-perishable food item."Zorro" also was present to hand out prizes to guests.
Nancy M. Klasky, spokeswoman for the Century chain, said the 16-screen complex is the only one of its kind in Utah and has every feature expected to be found in movie theaters of the future, including stadium seating (each row is built on 18-inch risers) that assures everyone will have an unobstructed view of the screen.
Other amenities include all digital sound, Lucasfilm THX certification, the latest projection equipment, "love seats" and rocking chair loge style seating, cupholders in the armrests, systems to aid the hearing impaired, a video game arcade and a "gourmet" coffee and dessert bar along with the snack bar.
The snack bar is unusual in that it is self-service cafeteria style, which Klasky said is much faster and avoids the long lines that are often the norm at theater snack bars. "Our theaters offer a seamless experience," she said.
The complex has a single lobby with two corridors that each provide access to eight auditoriums that vary in seating capacity from 180 to 400. Klasky said the complex has sufficient on-site parking to accommodate even the largest crowds.
Davis S. Layton, vice president of Layton Construction, which built the 57,700 square-foot complex, said the new facility is an important step in the financial and aesthetic revitalization of South Salt Lake.
Raymond W. Syufy, president of Century Theatres, said the complex is reminiscent of the grand palace theaters of the past but with all the amenities of a state-of-the-art facility. Century has built two similar theater complexes in Reno and Roseville, Calif.