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It's Showtime at Cinépolis

The Rancho Santa Margarita luxury movie theater held a ribbon cutting ceremony and served invited guests on Thursday, but is open to the public this weekend for The Hobbit.

The Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas in Rancho Santa Margarita was supposed to be ready for business back in September, but if reaction to the movie house on Thursday is any indication, it will make up for lost time.

Hundreds showed up at the company's ribbon cutting ceremony, and many got a chance to watch movies from the reclining leather chairs afterward as the company's fifth American theater readies to do business for real.

"We're fully cranking," said Matt Heyman, the head film buyer for Cinepolis. "We've had an excellent response with a lot of reserve seating activity."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the big movie opening this weekend and is playing on three screens, as well as Argo, Skyfall, and The Life of Pi.

The community response to the ribbon cutting event on Thursday was "better than several other openings," Heyman said. "It's an interesting experiment to see if we can get the community to adopt us as its theater. We want to integrate into the community.

"It's going to be a big deal, and we want to fulfill its entertainment, lounging and eating needs."

The theater is the fifth in America for the Mexico-based chain, which is the fourth-largest in the world. Other theaters are in Del Mar, La Costa, Laguna Niguel and Westlake Village.

The theaters are more like high-end hotels than typical multi-screen theaters. It provides food and beverage service, including adult beverages.

Specific seats can be purchased online or at the box office, which is located inside the lobby—there's no charge to go inside, where one can drink or dine without purchasing a movie ticket.

Cinepolis occupies the former Edwards Cinemas 6 across from City Hall. Heyman was the one responsible for choosing the location, and he was the one who cut the ribbon leading to the six screens. The largest of the six theaters, which feature oversized reclining seats with table service—including adult beverages at some showings—has 98 seats.

Total theater seating in the 30,960 square foot building is 480.

The courtyard in front of the movie house is not yet complete, so those who took in the festivites arrived through a secondary entrance.

Marty Hannigan of Sanderson J. Ray Development, said he "wasn't hopeful" that the location would get one of five locations in which Cinepolis would open. He had begun wooing Cinepolis in June, 2011, and signed a lease last December.

"The turning point came when Tony (Beall, the mayor) went to Del Mar" with the city manager and various other key staff and civic leaders, Hannigan said. "They really pitched the Rancho Santa Margarita community and that really sold them.

"That was the turning point."

April Josephson January 08, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Steve, I agree! This was a wonderful introduction to what I think will be a great addition to our city, when we look back historically. I will remember this night very fondly. I initially questioned whether the price point might limit the audience, as some people have expressed. But now that I've gone to a matinee with my family, I don't see the ticket price as being much different from your average theater. As far as we were concerned, we didn't want to go anywhere else for the total theater experience. The $20 price was for 3-D. Senior matinee price for Les Miserables—which was magnificent in this relaxed environment—was only $13. I hope this information will make some of the naysayers take a second look.
J Foran January 09, 2013 at 02:03 AM
I'm not here to bash the city council nor take place in the bashing of any of the commentators here. But I must say that I was one of those people that was waiting with bated breath, for MONTHS, for this theater to open. I was so excited...UNTIL I SAW THE PRICES. I truly agree with those of you who are saying that our city council members may have not considered the true demographic of RSM. Although we are a neighborhood that is higher class than some, most of us are still just middle class...and for us $20 for a movie NOT INCLUDING the food is a lot to spend. Nobody goes alone, so consider a party of 2, that's $40 we will spend just for the movie...and then how much more for the food? Don't get me wrong, I agree that this is supposed to be a higher end theatre, but I've been to this type of theatre in other cities...and they usually make their profits on the food and booze...NOT THE MOVIE itself. All the ones I've been to charge maybe a couple-three dollars more for the film, but the main profit-winner is the food and booze itself. But to charge a marked up price for the food as well as almost an extra $10 for the movie...well, I'm not criticizing, I'm just saying that for someone that was so excited to go to the movies at this theatre, I won't be one of the patrons. I just can't afford it. Not in this economy. And it's a shame because I am an avid movie goer...I go every single week. Guess I'll have to continue going to Foothill Ranch. I am very very sad about it....
Mary Kohler January 10, 2013 at 11:37 PM
The service was great although a little slow but our waiter was extremely nice. The seats are very comfy but I will definitely bring a throw next time. Timing is everything- order food and drinks before the movie starts and use the restrooms before also. My only complaint was the sound. Always too loud so it's nothing new. Will definitely go back.
sven January 25, 2013 at 06:30 PM
We love it its pricy but you pick and choose what you spend your money on
Lori February 01, 2013 at 08:26 PM
I'd just like to know how to pronounce Cinepolis.

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