The Blue Back Square movie theater, formerly owned by Bow Tie Cinemas, was purchased by Cinépolis USA effective July 6, 2016.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford’s movie theater was closed for part of the day on Wednesday, but reopened in the late afternoon under new ownership and in time for an air-conditioned escape for moviegoers on a steamy summer day.
Regional Trainer Kieran Bunch, who was onsite in West Hartford Wednesday morning to train the employees in the Cinépolis philosophy, said patrons should expect very little to change about the operation.
“We are keeping all of the employees. We really think it’s important to nurture the staff,” Bunch said, adding that the company really likes the theater’s general manager.
Cinépolis [commonly pronounced “sin-op-oh-lis,” Bunch said, although he added that the true Latin American pronunciation of the Mexican-based company’s name is “sin-ay-po-lees”] West Hartford will remain primarily a first-run theater. What will be added at some point in the near future are showings of older movies – “classics” geared to both adults and kids. “Casablanca,” “Mad Max,” and the original “LEGO” movie are a few examples he noted.
“Some people are really attached to Bow Tie, but I hope we will be accepted as well. We will be very family-oriented,” Bunch said. The company will consider the patterns of West Hartford patrons in choosing features for the future, he said.
As a company, Cinépolis has several different concepts within its brand, ranging from luxury, to premium, to more traditional. Some of the company’s theaters are geared more toward kids, he said, reiterating that no large-scale changes are planned for West Hartford in the near future.
Although some repairs were being done to the exterior front walkway even before the opening Wednesday, the interior of the property is in very good condition for an 8-year-old theater, Bunch said.
Food options will remain virtually unchanged, except for some additional items that will be added. “We are adding an additional popcorn – ‘zebra,'” Bunch said. The zebra popcorn is topped with two different types of chocolate. Some other items that may be added to the menu include food like chicken fingers and hot dogs.
Although some of the Cinépolis locations around the country have full bars, that’s not part of the plan for West Hartford, Bunch said. Some of the California locations that do offer alcoholic beverages maintain separate “over-21” auditoriums so that the family atmosphere can also be available in other spaces.
Many local residents may have gift and loyalty cards for Bow Tie Cinemas, as well as passes, and Bunch said they will not go to waste.
Gift cards will be honored beginning in about two or three weeks, he said, once the technology changeover has been completed.
Cinépolis does not have its own loyalty program yet, but Bunch said that anyone with a Bow Tie loyalty card will get a free small popcorn during the next 30 days. “We really have no way to know what’s on those cards because we don’t have access to their computer,” he said.
Passes will be honored through the end of 2016, he said. Movie prices are identical to those previously charged by Bow Tie.
“We are looking for more ways to make people happy,” Bunch said. “We really love this area. It seems extremely safe for people to drop their kids off.”
The website wasn’t immediately updated Wednesday morning, and a notice on the Bow Tie Cinemas website regarding the change in ownership directed people to cinepolisusa.com, leading to a bit of confusion and worry about the status of the theater.
By Wednesday afternoon both Cinépolis’ app and the website were showing the West Hartford location, although Bunch said it would be about a month before a photo of the theater with the new signage – due to arrive in about two to three weeks – shows up on the site.
“Free State of Jones” was rolling at 3:15 p.m., and all six theaters were back in operation as of the afternoon, with a showing of “Independence Day: Resurgence” in 3D closing out the night at 10:10 p.m.
“Secret Life of Pets” will open on Friday, Bunch said.
Cinépolis USA purchased five theaters on July 6 – two in New Jersey and two in New York in addition to West Hartford’s Blue Back Square theater.
Bunch said that plans for a grand opening by Cinépolis are in the works.
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