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Movies return to Uptown Nov. 14

Luxury theater in EpiCentre will allow moviegoers to drink alcohol and reserve specific seats in advance.

By Nichole Monroe Bell
nbell@charlotteobserver.com

Uptown's first modern movie theater complex will open Nov. 14 at the EpiCentre, featuring five screens, a luxury environment and adults-only atmosphere in the evenings.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based IPic Entertainment will run the theater, which will open with the release of the upcoming James Bond film “Quantum of Solace,” said EpiCentre developer Afshin Ghazi of Ghazi Co.

IPic theaters feature VIP sections that allow moviegoers to buy their tickets online as much as a week ahead of time and reserve a specific seat – similar to purchasing a concert ticket, company spokesman Jim Lee said.

Seat availability is updated in real time online, so moviegoers can tell right away if the movie they want to see is sold out. It also helps the theater because it can make a more educated decision whether to make additional screens available.

“People love it because they don't have to rush and battle everybody to see the best movie of the year,” Lee said. “This summer, when other theaters were dealing with lines and waits for ‘Dark Knight,' our theaters were calm. People appreciate that.”

In other cities, IPic theater VIP seats cost $14 in the evenings, compared to $9 for general seating. Lee said the Charlotte theater's pricing will be different, but he didn't have details.

Charlotte's IPic theater will also only allow moviegoers age 21 and up into the theater after 7 p.m. Visitors will be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages in the theater and bring in food from the attached restaurant to be named “Mez.”

The theater also touts that it does not show any pre-show advertising. The featured movie begins promptly following the previews of coming attractions.

As the residential population uptown has boomed, many residents have wanted to see a movie theater come to the area. The nearest theaters showing popular blockbusters are on Park Road, at Phillips Place near SouthPark or at Northlake Mall.

IPic comes as the EpiCentre is adding other entertainment venues and eateries, said Bob Durkin, president of Bar Management Group, which runs many of the venues.

Among them:

Jason's Deli is expected to open this week.

Flemings Steakhouse is slated to open at the end of the month.

PJ's Coffee and Wine Bar is scheduled to open sometime within the next month.

Strike City, an upscale bowling alley, will open in late November.

Italian restaurant Bella Vita has begun construction and is expected to open by the end of the year.

EpiCentre is a three-story, 267,000-square-foot entertainment-retail center at College and Trade streets.

Most venues are under construction. In addition to entertainment, restaurants and bars, the project calls for a 48-story condo tower and 175-room hotel. The condo tower has been halted because of a dispute between developers and the Ghazi Co.

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