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Galaxy Theatres breaks ground in Uptown Gig Harbor for IMAX

Frank Rimkus, CEO of Galaxy Theaters, left, Gig Harbor Mayor Jill Guernsey and John Hogan, managing partner of Uptown, stand for a portrait with gold shovels during a July 20 groundbreaking ceremony for the new IMAX theater.
Frank Rimkus, CEO of Galaxy Theaters, left, Gig Harbor Mayor Jill Guernsey and John Hogan, managing partner of Uptown, stand for a portrait with gold shovels during a July 20 groundbreaking ceremony for the new IMAX theater. jbessex@gateline.com

Updates continue at the Galaxy Theatre at Gig Harbor’s Uptown Shopping Complex, as the excitement for new, reclining seats take a backseat to the newest incoming attraction: an IMAX theater.

The IMAX in Uptown will be the first one in Pierce County — with the next nearest IMAX locations in Kent and Lacey — and will be the most digitally advanced IMAX west of the Mississippi river, according to Frank Rimkus, CEO of Galaxy Theatres.

“Not every community can have an IMAX. They’re not on every street corner ... it’s something very special,” Rimkus said. “(The theatre) is a full IMAX experience.”

Joining Rimkus at a ceremonial groundbreaking July 20 was Gig Harbor Mayor Jill Guernsey, Gig Harbor city staff and John Hogan, managing member of Gateway Capital, LLC, the Uptown development.

Not every community can have an IMAX. They’re not on every street corner ... it’s something very special. (The theatre) is a full IMAX experience.

Frank Rimkus, CEO of Galaxy Theatres

“This is the evolution of where we see the entertainment business going,” Hogan said. “Bringing in IMAX can elevate the experience here (in Uptown) ...We try to prevent ourselves from being Anywhere, USA.”

Construction for the IMAX theatre began after a two-year permitting process with the city, which included a performance-based height exception to allow for the larger IMAX screen.

Though an additional 350 seats are being added to the theatre for the IMAX, the overall occupancy allowance for the business remained nearly the same due to a recent remodel of the theatre seating that decreased the number of seats from 2,100 to 960.

This means that adding in the additional IMAX seats will still keep the theatre below its occupancy and help to keep parking manageable.

Education is a cornerstone of what we believe. Historically, a movie theater is a social icon. It should reflect the social needs of the community.

Frank Rimkus, CEO of Galaxy Theatres

“We have fewer seats but people come more often,” Rimkus said. “It’s a nice dynamic.”

In addition to the partnership with the city, Rimkus said the theatre has partnered with local school districts and educational programs to utilize the IMAX as another tool for local students.

“Education is a cornerstone of what we believe,” Rimkus said. “Historically, a movie theater is a social icon. It should reflect the social needs of the community.”

This educational partnership between Galaxy Theatres and local educators was explored in a presentation given by the West Sound STEM Network on July 20 discussing STEM education and priorities in the region.

Gig Harbor is a community that values education. If the Peninsula School District had no interest in working with the theater and doing unique things, it would have been much harder to bring the IMAX to Gig Harbor.

John Hogan, managing member of Gateway Capital, LLC

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and State Superintendent Randy Dorn joined more than 100 educational leaders, STEM professionals and community representatives for a keynote speech by John Delaney from the University of Washington School of Oceanography.

“Gig Harbor is a community that values education,” Hogan said. “If the Peninsula School District had no interest in working with the theater and doing unique things, it would have been much harder to bring the IMAX to Gig Harbor.”

Construction is underway on the IMAX and the theater is scheduled to open next spring.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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