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Theater's first year a blockbuster

Theater's first year a blockbuster


TOWN OF LYONS — Representatives of Emagine Entertainment are calling the first year of their new Lake Geneva movie theater complex a success, saying the attraction is averaging 500 customers a day.

Emagine Geneva Lakes theater at 2565 state Highway 120 in the town of Lyons opened for business in late August last year, and recently marked its one-year anniversary.

Paul Glantz, chairman of Emagine Entertainment, said he has been pleased with the response the theater has received from both residents and tourists in the Lake Geneva region.

Glantz estimated that the theater has attracted about 200,000 visitors, which averages out to more than 500 a day. He also said the property generated about $3 million in revenue in its first year.

“We’ve received a warm reception,” he said. “We’re happy with the business we’ve gotten in Lake Geneva.”

Michigan-based Emagine Entertainment moved into the market here after Showboat movie theater closed in 2017 after about 20 years in operation. Emagine purchased the property for about $1.2 million and then spent months transforming it into luxury movie-going facilities.

The new complex features eight auditoriums with reclining seats, enhanced projectors and upgraded sound systems. Patrons also can enjoy a full-service bar, and employees will deliver food concessions directly to a customer’s seat inside a theater.

Daniel Colwell, senior manager of the town of Lyons attraction, predicted that business will continue to grow for the luxury movie house.

“It’s thrilling,” Colwell said. “We’re looking forward to the second year, and seeing how things go.”

Emagine owners and managers are not planning any event or celebration to coincide with the one-year anniversary in Lake Geneva.

But employees and others are taking the opportunity to reflect on the first-year success and the impact that Emagine has had on the local movie-going experience.

Employee Scott Houser said he recalls visiting the Showplace theater as a child. Now, he enjoys going to Emagine Geneva Lakes to work.

“It’s been an interesting experience,” he said.

Houser said he watches as customers look amazed when they walk into the new theater property and see all of upgraded accommodations that are available for movie fans.

“It’s a whole new experience,” he said. “Everybody just has been happy with the changes.”

Colwell recalled watching the transformation take place for a period of several months before Emagine opened its doors in August 2019.

“In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful theater in Wisconsin,” he said.

Emagine Entertainment operates about 20 luxury theaters in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.

During its first year in Lake Geneva, Glantz said, some of the more popular films locally have included the Disney movies and the Marvel superhero movies, including “The Avengers: Endgame,” the biggest hit so far here.

“That’s not a surprise,” he said. “Those movies usually attract a good family audience.”

After 30 years in business, Glantz said movie theaters have to offer more concession items and upgraded accommodations to compete with home entertainment systems and online movie streaming services.

“Gone are the days when you have to crane your neck to see over the person in front of you,” he said. “Gone are the days when you have to squeeze into your seat.”

With upcoming blockbusters like “Terminator: Dark Fate,” “Wonder Woman: 1984,” “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” Emagine official have high hopes for even bigger crowds in the months ahead.

“I think we got a lot of gas left in the tank,” Glantz said.

He added: “With any business like ours, it takes time for folks to change habits and discover your business. I think we will continue to see growth in the next three to four years.”

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