Movie Theaters in Merced
The Movie Theaters of Merced represent an ongoing entertainment package of great diversity. The city of Merced has a new multiplex 12 screen addition downtown.. It did not arrive without considerable controversy among the merchants and the more mature residents of Merced.
Prior to its arrival, Merced had a major movie complex near the Mall, which housed 6 screens. In the last year it has undergone a remodel complete with stadium seats and a steeper rake. There was also had a downtown old classic multiple floor movie theatre. The city has bought this theatre for 700,000 dollars and a nonprofit foundation plans to remodel it for live theater events. A theater on the north end of main street had closed its converted two screens. It eventually was converted to the manizer theatre and shows art films and has an event oriented live show docket. The two screen theater in a stip mall by the high school has been converted to an arcade that charges by the hour. All of these theaters were owned and managed at one time by United Artists Theaters. Currently Wallace theaters is the managing company for the new "Mainplace" theatres the new theatres downtown. Regal has taken over United Artists interests at the movie theatres at the mall. Manizer the art film theatre is struggling to stay out of bankruptcy.
Controversy on the new twelve screen venue "Mainplace" in downtown centered on questions as to the economic viability of the new theatre complex.
The new complex was financed with redevelopment funds and used the cityıs ability to condemn and acquire buildings. Should this be something that a redevelopment agency does?
The city government also faced the fact that many of the older buildings in downtown Merced, where this new movie complex would be built, and from which established stores would be torn down, did not meet the earthquake code and were vulnerable to total collapse. If you have ever been in a two story brick building that did not have reinforcement you would know the terror that that possibility represents. Old bricks sway to the waves. New commercial fire regulations needed to be enforced as well. Retrofitting some of the old musty buildings represented a problem. From a financial viewpoint many small mom and pop businesses along main street Merced felt the pressure from economically sponsoring downtown events while trying to maintain a viable business.
The planners felt that reviving the downtown with a big movie complex and a brand new Starbucks and a fancy ice cream shop could certainly change overall feel of downtown Merced, New construction would necessarily be made with earthquake and fire regulations mandated.
Currently in Merced, the new Mainplace Theaters seems to be doing a good business. It is operated by Wallace Theatres. The Merced Mall 6 screens, still United Artists and gets its share of the blockbuster movies. Recently it has renovated its seating to stadium seats similar to those offered at the new downtown complex. A new art film theatre has opened with the addition of some weekend live performances in the older north end of the main street site. As mentioned above it has struggled and may face closure. The old two story split level four screen site is now the low admission price theatre in town. Around the corner from the new 12 screen theatre has opened an internet cafe. The brew pub which opened with grand fanfare has since closed down without a single beer made on the premisis. . There are still empty spots for businesses downtown. Overall however, downtown Merced is enjoying its new makeover. People are coming downtown to be entertained.
The mosaic murals on the Mainplace Theatre in downtown Merced
LAST MODIFIED: June 6,2003