By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Ownership of the Oakwood Mall ShowPlex Theater changed hands recently, though the theater will retain its name and continue operations largely unchanged for the immediate future.
Dallas-based Starplex Cinemas announced last week the acquisition of ShowPlex Cinemas Inc., based in Overland Park, Kan.
The acquisition, which included the Oakwood Mall theater, created a “top-12 theater chain with 32 locations across the United States,” according to a Starplex press release.
Starplex acquired from ShowPlex 10 theaters with 92 screens. The two companies combined will operate 32 theaters and 320 screens in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington, according to the Starplex press release.
The two companies will continue to operate under their existing brands with Starplex assuming the day-to-day management of ShowPlex’s theaters. The corporate office will be located in Dallas, where Starplex is based, according to the press release.
Starplex’s theaters are split between first-run theaters, which show the latest releases, and second-run theaters, which show at a reduced ticket price movies already released from the first-run market.
Traci Hoey, Starplex Cinemas director of marketing, said the Oakwood Mall theater will remain a first-run theater. She said less than half of the acquired ShowPlex theaters will become second-run theaters, and “none in the near future.”
According to information provided by Hoey, the only immediate change planned for the Oakwood Mall theater is a decrease in ticket prices.
Prices currently are $7.25 before 6 p.m.; $8.25 after 6 p.m.; $7 for military; and $6.75 for seniors and children.
Those prices will drop Jan. 18 to $7 for adults after 6 p.m., and $5 before 6 p.m. and for children, students, seniors and military for all show times.
The long-term plans for the ShowPlex Theater in Enid, and Oakwood Mall as a whole, remains uncertain.
Enid city commissioners in November approved a Tax Increment Finance district for Tulsa-based Vector Properties to “de-mall” Oakwood Mall, and convert it to an outdoor shopping center.
The project, which is expected to cost about $35 million, would include constructing new buildings on the front side of the mall property and moving current tenants into them. The mall itself would be demolished, except for anchor stores Dillard’s, JCPenney and Sears, which would be maintained and new facades built.
Part of that plan also called for Showplex to move the theater from the mall and build a 12-screen stand-alone theater.
Hoey said Starplex took the TIF agreement into account in the acquisition of the Oakwood Mall theater, and Starplex still plans to build a stand-alone theater if Vector Properties acquires the mall and goes forward with the “de-malling” plan.
Hoey said the number of screens planned for the stand-alone theater is undetermined.
Rickey Hayes, CEO of Tulsa-based Retail Attractions and retail consultant for the city of Enid, said he does not expect the change in ownership to affect the prospects for a stand-alone theater in Enid.
“I think it’s a positive thing, really” Hayes said. “I think they’re a stronger theater group after this sale.”
Last week’s change in ownership is the second in three years for the Oakwood Mall theater. ShowPlex acquired the theater from Dickinson Theaters in 2010.ʟ