The movie theater in the Tower Plaza, former home base for the Temecula film festival, is getting rebooted by AMC, the Kansas-based movie theater chain owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group.
Work on what has been described as a major upgrade of the theater — which will include a fresh coat of paint, new signage and wider, reclining seats in the auditoriums — could begin this summer.
The plan, which is still being finalized, is to have the movie house ready for the holiday season, which will find DC’s “Aquaman” and the “Fantastic Beasts” sequel hitting the nation’s multiplexes.
The Cal Oaks theater in Murrieta, which is owned by Reading Cinemas, underwent a similar transformation last year, a redesign that included the addition of a coffee shop plus beer and wine service.
The 10-screen Tower Plaza theater was opened in 1997 by the Sanborn family, which runs a Newport Beach-based chain of theaters dubbed The Movie Experience.
The new theater was quickly adopted by the film festival, which was held in September each year. In 2003, the Sanborns remodeled the rear portion of the cineplex as an “art house,” and started screening indie movies and limited-release films. It also was the site of the Screening Room Classics series, one-night-only showings of classic movies such as “Gone With the Wind” and “Jaws.”
In 2011, the owner of the shopping center and the chain could not come to terms on a new lease and the screens were taken over by the UltraStar chain, which flipped the property to Carmike Cinemas three years later.
Carmike was purchased by AMC in 2016 and the Tower Plaza theater, which is applying for a license to sell beer and wine, has been re-branded as AMC Temecula 10.