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|Home: BigScreen Journal - Johnson Creek, WI: New Johnson Creek Theater Boasts 2 THX screens|
On Friday, April 4th, 1997, a new theater opened its doors in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. Star Cinema - Johnson Creek features 8 screens, all installed with surround sound capability, and two of them are also THX-certified. The theater is operated by AGT Enterprises, Inc. in Prairie du Chien, and joins three other Star Cinemas in Prairie du Chien, Reedsburg, and Sparta. Star Cinema - Johnson Creek is located just south of the intersection of I-94 and Hwy 26, and is about 40 miles west of Milwaukee.
This marks the only presence of THX-certified theaters in Wisconsin. There were two THX-certified screens located at Cinemark's Movies 10 in Milwaukee, but their THX certification was not renewed in 1995. The BigScreen Cinema Guide welcomes the return of THX certification to Wisconsin theaters, since the THX mark highlights those theaters that place an emphasis on the quality of the movie presentation. In The BigScreen Cinema Guide, you will find a graphic in the schedules (see graphic at right) indicating which presentations are being shown in THX-certified screens.
To obtain THX certification, a theater must adhere to strict guidelines regarding theater design, sound and picture quality, and noise levels within the auditorium. Once the certification is obtained, it doesn't end there. Periodically, the theater is recertified by a trained technician to assure consistent quality. For more information on THX and what it can do for the movie-going experience, please refer to the THX Home Page, where they describe the process of THX certification and what aspects THX covers when certifying a theater.
A special open house was held the night before the grand opening, where people involved in the construction and management of the theater, along with other industry types, were able to meet with the people behind the theater and to view films in each of the screens.
We have met with the management and technicians behind Star Cinemas, and we are very impressed. Both the facility and the people behind the scenes present a fine image of what the movie theater industry should represent. Great care has been taken to assure a quality movie-going experience, whether or not you are seeing a movie in one of the THX-certified screens. A tour of the projection booth revealed one of the largest and cleanest booths we have ever seen. It provides ample room for the projectors and equipment, without the cramped and often dirty conditions that can be found in some theaters. This should assist the theater in being able to present films with a minimum number of problems with prints becoming dirty after being run for a few weeks.
When you walk into the front door of the theater, you are served by one of four ticket counters for rapid progression to the lobby and concession stand. Spanning the entire width of the spacious lobby, the concession stand offers the traditional fare, beverages, candy, and freshly-popped buttered popcorn. Even with the stress of serving over 800 people and it being the first night, the concession staff was very friendly and helpful. It was refreshing to see that the popcorn was popped at the concession stand, instead of being bagged after being popped an unknown number of days earlier.
As has become popular in theater design lately, the screens are placed down hallways on each end of the concession stand. The THX screens are at the front of the building, screen #1 is at the north end and screen #2 on the south. The remaining screens line the back of the building, for a total of eight screens. Restrooms are readily accessible at each end of the lobby.
Each theater is nicely appointed with rocker seats throughout, and is handicap accessible. Assistive listening devices are available for those with hearing difficulties. The smaller auditoriums can seat 90 movie-goers, with the largest theaters holding 220 patrons. Four of the auditoriums feature curved screens, which improve the distribution of light on the screen from the projector. The largest screens are installed in the two THX auditoriums, each measuring 38.5 feet by 16.5 feet.
The management at Star Cinema acknowleges the growing popularity of the digital sound formats in movie presentations. Of the three digital sound formats in use today (Dolby Digital, DTS Digital, and Sony's SDDS), this theater has two screens (#1 & #2) equipped with Dolby Digital sound. The BigScreen Cinema Guide indicates Dolby Digital presentations with a special graphic in the schedules (see graphic at right). In preparation for the future, all the auditoriums have been wired to accept the addition of digital processors. This built-in flexibility is indicative of the kind of thought and up-front consideration that the organization has put into this theater.
For more details about the individual auditorium specifications, refer to the Star Cinema - Johnson Creek InfoPage for a complete screen-by-screen breakdown of how each auditorium is equipped.
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