The last time anyone saw a movie at Edgewater Mall was in the 1990s, but that’s changing this week.
Biloxi Premiere LUX Ciné & Pizza Pub officially opens Friday, Nov. 30, in the former Sears location.
And those who want a sneak preview and can go Thursday morning and afternoon to see their first movie for free. Also on Thursday, military members and their families are invited to a reception after 4 p.m. and for a free movie beginning at 6 p.m.
The free first-day films include:
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▪ ”Hotel Transylvania 3” at 11:05 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (6 p.m. for military)
▪ ”Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” at 10:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:20 p.m., 1:35 p.m. (6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. military)
▪ ”The Incredibles 2” at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. (6 p.m. for military)
▪ ”The Meg” at 11 a.m., 1:45 p.m. (6 p.m. for military)
▪ ”Crazy Rich Asians” at 10:15 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:40 p.m. (6:15 military)
▪ ”Mission Impossible — Fallout” at 10 a.m., 1:15 p.m. (6:15 military)
The first show when the new theater opens on Friday is “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” at 10 a.m., “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” a remake of the animated classic, and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a musical drama, are next at 10:15 a.m. Expected to be most popular with families this weekend is “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” an animated film that will be shown in 2D and 3D, with glasses provided.
A big range in ticket prices depends on the day and time of the movie, said John Sampson, general manager. Tickets generally run from $5.50 to $6 for matinees, $10 in the evening and $11.25 for 3-D movies. Discounts are given to seniors age 60 plus and military.
But there’s no box office to buy tickets. Gone is the ticket window, replaced by online ticket sales or a kiosk inside the door that lets customers choose their movie and their seats and pay by cash or credit card.
“We’ll have staff on hand to train the customers,” Sampson said.
Those who order and pay online bring their code with them to the theater. Tickets can be printed at the usher stand outside the theaters to skip the concession line.
‘Family atmosphere’ and full-service bar
Many people consider popcorn the best part of going to the movies. At the new theater, popcorn and beverage refills are free at the self-service counter, so the snacks don’t run out before the movie.
Also on the menu are wings and pizza, baked in two Lincoln pizza ovens that maintain constant temperature and turn out a pizza every 2.5 minutes, said Jim Levinson, food and beverage director for Premiere cinemas. Customers can order a personal pizza, share a pepperoni pizza or try a Gulf Coast seafood pizza.
Off to one side of the lobby is a bar with stools to sit and watch the game until the movie starts. Ten beers are on tap and the full-service bar also serves wine and mixed drinks.
“We do have drink limits,” said Sampson, who came from Abilene, Texas, to manage the new Biloxi theater after 15 years with Premiere Cinemas. He said they also don’t sell shots or allow straight drinks.
“We’re trying very much for a family atmosphere,” he said.
The biggest theater has 156 seats, the second-biggest has 112 seats and the other six theaters each have 100 seats, said Terry Powell, manager of Edgewater Mall. He demonstrated how to recline the seat, adjust the headrest and swing the tray around to make snacking easier.
“All the seats in the theater are just like this,” he said.
The mall will provide security in addition to those contracted by the theater, he said. There is no curfew for teens.
Decades ago there were two theaters inside and outside the mall. After a remodel in the 1990s, one of the theaters moved to where Walmart now stands, Powell said.
“After Katrina that one didn’t come back,” he said.
When Sears closed, it provided the opportunity for the new theater on the east side of the mall.
“This will bring additional traffic to the mall,” Powell said, and he expects it to will attract additional tenants.
Construction continues at the mall on a new Sky Zone trampoline park, which is on target for a mid-May opening, he said. Work also has started outside the mall for Brick & Spoon restaurant and two other tenants just announced, Kay Jewelers and Verizon Wireless.
These new attractions and restaurants will take Edgewater Mall about more than shopping.
“It has to be in today’s world,” Powell said.