Regal to install IMAX theater in Ocala

Transient

An IMAX theater is coming to Ocala! Previously, the closest IMAX theaters were in Orlando and St. Augustine. By the end of the year, you will be able to get the IMAX experience at the Hollywood 16 movie complex on Southwest 19th Avenue Road, right around the corner from Paddock Shoppes

By Rick Allen | The Gainesville Sun

The really, REALLY big screen is coming to Ocala.

A spokesman for Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Entertainment Group confirmed Friday that an IMAX system will be installed at the Hollywood 16 movie complex on Southwest 19th Avenue Road by the end of the year.

“It'll be real IMAX, not the RPX: Regal Premium Experience,” said Richard M. Grover, director of marketing and communications.

He said Regal officials with more details about the Ocala installation would be available Monday to offer specifics on the project. “But I did want to confirm that IMAX is coming to our Hollywood 16 in the fourth quarter,” he said.

On that timetable, one of the existing auditoriums in the complex will be converted to the ultra-big screen format. Moreover, if it's completed by mid-November, one of the first films shown in the new arena could be “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” or “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Both films are the second installments in popular franchises.

“Catching Fire” is scheduled for release Nov. 22 and “The Hobbit” is scheduled for Dec. 13. Since 2000, more and more major films have been released in an IMAX format at the same time as their wide release. The first full-length Hollywood feature released as an IMAX film was “Fantasia 2000” in December 1999.

Until now, the closest IMAX screens have been in Orlando, Tampa and at Golf World near St. Augustine. But Regal and some of its rival chains in recent years have been attempting to increase access to IMAX or IMAX-like experiences by converting existing facilities to a big-screen format, according to the online BigScreen Cinema Guide.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported the iconic Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was converted to IMAX over the summer and will reopen as the renamed TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX later this month with a special showing of “The Wizard of Oz” in 3-D.

On its website, Regal lists 76 theater complexes containing an IMAX theater; Regal IMAX theaters in Florida are located in Fort Myers, Sunrise and two in Orlando.

Reaction to the news on Facebook was swift and mostly positive. “Yes!” “Wonderful idea!” and “In a heartbeat” were among some of the quick comments posted.

“Would be awesome, and I think the price is relative to where you are,” wrote Tracey Hale Cauthen. But Susan Parke-Alligood was thinking more southwest than Easy Street: “We need something in Dunnellon!”

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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