The Charlotte area's newest cinema shows "Sherlock Holmes," "It's Complicated" and other first-run films.
But other than the popcorn, soft drinks, pretzels and nachos, that's about all it has in common with other big-screen venues.
Our Town Cinemas, with four screens, debuted Dec. 25 in a shopping center space near Davidson College that previously housed a pizzeria and a dollar store.
Refurbishing vacant shopping center space for movie theaters in small towns is unusual, said Patrick Woodie of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center in Raleigh. It's often the other way around, with new uses found for abandoned theaters, he said.
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Yet Our Town Cinemas has already received inquiries about opening similar ventures elsewhere in the Carolinas and Georgia, and expansion will happen, said 38-year movie industry veteran Curtis Fainn of Concord, who'd dreamed of opening such a theater for years and helped launch Our Town Cinemas.
The more intimate setting is a return to downtown cinemas of old, said Robert Lauer of ADW Architects in Charlotte, who designed Our Town Cinemas.
Our Town Cinemas consists of two 90-seat theaters and two 40-seat theaters. It plans to add an arts and special-film series and open its theaters to community meetings.
"In their heyday, every little town had a cinema, and we're just trying to bring that back," Lauer said.
Its concession stand sells White Castle hamburgers, Nathan's hot dogs and, soon, personal-size pizzas from nearby Brick House Tavern. Draft beer and wine are on the way.
Some of the seats at Our Town Cinemas swivel and can be adjusted for height. They come with bistro tables. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate are served in mugs.
Lauer, who lives in Davidson, has designed more than 250 cinemas across the country over 18 years, "but none like this one," he said.
As a college town with many walkers and bicyclists, Davidson was the perfect setting for such a venture, Lauer said.
Fainn and Lauer teamed with Kosta and Dino Pappas of Vrettos Pappas Consulting Engineers of Charlotte, Tim Smith of general contractor Proline Construction of Davidson, and marketing and advertising veteran Jan Black of Cornelius.
Fainn, whose expertise is in film buying and programming, said plans for Our Town Cinemas took greater shape after he and Black attended a workshop on entrepreneurship at the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center two years ago.
"How could we do something different with the talents we have?" Black said. "The response has just been amazing."
Moviegoers gave the new venue a thumbs-up last week.
"The swively chairs rock," Elizabeth Mills of Davidson said.
Katie Sumner, 17, of Huntersville said she appreciated the student discount and more personal setting.
"I don't like going to big-box theaters," Sumner said before watching "Sherlock Holmes" with friend Kate Sherrill, 17, of Davidson. "And this is part of the community."