Coming attractions: Edgewater Mall will be going to the movies in 2018

An artist’s rendering of the new theater that will go into part of the space that was occupied by Sears.
An artist’s rendering of the new theater that will go into part of the space that was occupied by Sears.

Work has already begun on an eight-screen movie theater at Edgewater Mall, and Premiere Cinema will make its debut this time next year.

The movie theater will move to the former Sears location on the southeast side and will be separate but adjacent to the mall. Since the theater won’t fill the entire space occupied by Sears, a 20,000-square-foot grassy area on the north side of the theater presents space for future opportunities, said Terry Powell, mall manager.

Premier Cinema is privately owned and based in Texas, and operates almost 300 screens in 26 locations across five states in the southeast and southwest United States. The Biloxi theater will have eight theaters with state-of-the-art digital and total luxury reclining seats.

Once construction is completed in November 2018, residents and visitors will no longer have to drive north of Interstate 10 to go to the movies.

“Biloxi is an entertainment hub that’s been missing a cinema to call its own for a long time, so we’re thrilled to be coming to the market,” said Gary Moore, chief executive officer of Premier Cinemas.

Mall developer and property manager Jim Wilson & Associates also announced Tuesday it recently extended the leases with the three anchor department stores, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Belk. Together the three stores occupy 400,000 square feet of retail space.

Also coming to the mall is Barefoot Billy’s, a full-service bar and grill, opening in early December in what was Bonefish Grill adjacent to the south mall entrance.

As the Sears building is demolished, other improvements coming to Edgewater Mall are updated mall entrances, food court improvements and improved traffic access from U.S. 90, Powell said. The west entrance renovation near the food court will begin in the summer.

Birmingham, Alabama-based CMH Architects designed the plans for the mall and general contractor is Stewart Perry Inc.

Sears closed during the summer and Powell said the theater is a good fit for the big box store that otherwise would be hard to fill.

“In today’s environment with retail we’ve got to look to other opportunities,” he said. “Think outside the box — literally.”

This is the latest reincarnation for Edgewater Mall that opened in 1963 with one anchor store — Gayfers, which was later purchased by Dillard’s. Among the other stores that have come and gone are J.J. Newberry and McCrory.

Stores that have opened in the last year at the mall are City G.E.A.R., Chandeleur Outfitters, Play Live Nation and Luxe 83 Boutique.