That new-theater smell is wafting through the air in Davidson's Sadler Square.
Our Town Cinemas, a first-run, four-screen complex, quietly opened over Christmas weekend with four "must-see" blockbusters.
There was a family film: Disney's "The Princess and the Frog." There was a romantic comedy: "It's Complicated." There was the hit film "Sherlock Holmes," which grossed the second most over the Christmas weekend next to "Avatar." And there was an insightful, independent-type film: "Invictus."
And this is just a sampling of the variety of programming coming to the area.
"It shows we have the ability to get first-run movies, but we also will blend them in with a combination of other of types of films," said Jan Black, the theater's director of marketing. "Can we get 'Sherlock Holmes' on Christmas? Yes. Did we open on Christmas? Yes."
Our Town Cinemas is the vision of Curtis Fainn, a 38-year veteran in the theater industry who has worked as a film buyer and theater operator. He will move to the Lake Norman area shortly.
The nearly 10,000-square-foot space has two 90-seat and two 40-seat theaters. Both have bistro-style seating and adjustable leather chairs. Ticket prices range from $7 to $9 and matinee showings are available.
A film society also is being organized. The group will help provide a voice for the area's cross-section of movie-goers, as well as help organize film festivals and themed movie nights.
Since opening, the theater hasn't sold out but there has been a steady flow of patrons and even some repeat customers, Black said. And audiences' perception of what a movie theater can be may change after visiting Our Town Cinemas.
The size of the theater is designed to enhance the social aspect of the movie-going experience and organizers hope the theater will be used as a model for other towns.
"People are amazed we turned a dollar store into a movie theater," Black said. "They can't imagine how we got this theater into the old space."
Lisa Fischer of Denver checked out the theater last week and said it was very "homey."
"This is going to go over real big, I think," she said.
Pamela Barney, 19, of Huntersville works at the concession counter. She said patron traffic was consistent during opening weekend and agrees the theater's size helps make the whole experience more personal.
"It's impersonal in big theaters," she said. "Here, you can move the chairs and get more of a home feel. It just surrounds you and it being smaller makes it more interesting. You're more into the movie because you're closer to it."
Right now, unique items at the concession counter include Nathan's hot dogs and White Castle hamburgers. Staple concession items range from $2 to $4.
Beer and wine and personal pizzas from Brickhouse Tavern will make their way to the menu soon, Black said. And organizers hope to form alliances with other community businesses that may want to provide goods or services to the cinema or its patrons.
Shaw Smith, 60, an art professor at Davidson College played his first little league game in a "red sandlot," where the theater now stands.
"I like it," he said. "It's incredibly available..."
Smith said he's looking forward to the art films that will be shown at the theater and thinks the college crowd will appreciate the town's new offering.
Herb Jackson, 64, also an art professor at the college, went to see "Sherlock Holmes" with his co-worker.
"We're really glad to have it available and close by," he said. "I think it seems very nice. I don't think any of the people here are going to need encouragement to check it out - it's a no-brainer."
Mike Anthony, 62, took a 30-minute walk to the new theater last week.
"It's a neat idea," he said. "You can get something to eat, see a movie - I'm glad they did it. I'm just glad they're improving the area and not junking it up."