Paragon Theaters will host a grand opening on Dec. 16 for a new Parkside Town Commons location — a model of “luxury” viewing designed in preparation for consumers’ punctilious post-pandemic standards.
The new Paragon Theater at 1140 Parkside Main Street in Cary replaces CineBowl & Grille, which closed at the pandemic’s start after falling into disrepair, according to Paragon CEO Mike Whalen.
“We bought it out of bankruptcy,” Whalen told The News & Observer. “And when we bought, a lot of the leather seats had rips in them, the arm chairs in the theater were looking not well. Really, it’s just vastly different now than what people would remember.”
The $2 million renovation encompasses more than cosmetic repairs. It represents Paragon’s assertion that movie-goers will not abide a traditional theater experience after years adjusting to at-home pandemic entertainment.
“People have gotten conditioned because of COVID to streaming services,” Whalen said. “The consumer has a lot more choices to view or consume movie product.... So you have to offer different amenities than just the movie to keep people coming.”
An improved movie theater experience
Under a pre-pandemic model, traditional movie theaters counted on ticket sales for about 70% of their revenue, Whalen said. But visitors are more loath than ever to pay high ticket prices.
To diversify its income sources, the Paragon theater will house a multifaceted entertainment experience, replete with opulent “zero-gravity recliners,” in-theater dining and immersive, 66-foot-wide screens tilted at a 15 degree. Another section of the facility houses a bowling alley and arcade.
“People are probably saying, ‘Oh God, I definitely thought that theater wasn’t going to open again,’ or ‘Oh, I remember what it was and it was sort of run down,’” Whalen said. “But it’s not like that at all. It’s an amazing entertainment destination for the people of Cary.”
To entice viewers who may have grown more comfortable watching movies from their couch, Paragon is opening with a $6 ticket special for all movies, seven days a week. Prices will likely go up in the future, but “not for several months at least,” Whalen said.
It costs $4 more for a seat in the Lux Box, a higher-end section of each theater with privacy wings, adjustable heating and individual, retractable tables “for a more private and luxurious movie experience,” according to a press release.
“We recognize that people have a lot more choices than ever for their entertainment,” Whalen said. “So we’re determined to make an experience that they’ll feel is worthy of their consumption dollars.”
The Parkside Town Commons location is Paragon’s first in Cary. A second will open next year at the Fenton development on Cary Towne Boulevard between I-40 and Maynard Road, as The News & Observer reported.