Reisterstown-based R/C Theatres buys movie theater at TownMall of Westminster

Jon Kelvey
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

Thomas Stinnett lives in Parkville, but he grew up in the Westminster area and, when he comes to town to visit family, he still likes to stop by the movie theater at TownMall of Westminster to catch a flick.

“I kind of like this theater for its own kind of style — it has a nice family quality to it,” he said. “Some theaters are really big and there’s lots of people in them and that’s great, but this is a nice theater if you just want to come with your family and see a movie together.”

On Thursday afternoon, Stinnett was checking out the showtimes for a less-than-family-friendly flick — “Deadpool 2” — but said there are only a few things he’d like to see change at the theater. The seating for instance.

“A lot of the theaters are doing recliners and stuff like that,” he said. “I’ve seen that out where I live. [The] Towson theater has the reclining chairs and that’s pretty cool.”

There are some others who think reclining theater chairs are cool, too, and that includes R/C Theatres — the Reisterstown-based company that, as of Tuesday, May 22, will be the new owners of the movie theater in TownMall.

Among the intended improvements? Reclining chairs, according to R/C President Scott Cohen.

“They will be full electric recliners with the legs coming up,” he said. “I call them electric La-Z-Boys, for lack of a better word.”

R/C currently manages theaters in 10 other area locations, including the Hanover 16 and Gettysburg 8 in Pennsylvania, but the company also has a long history in Carroll County, going back to the Monocacy Drive-In in Taneytown.

“I am third generation doing this — I grew up in it. I was going up to Taneytown with my grandfather on Saturdays as a kid,” Cohen said. “Then when he died, I ran the theater. Most kids had a high school life. I got home at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. in the morning.”

R/C operated the twin theater in Eldersburg’s Carrolltowne Mall before closing it to build a six-plex in the parking lot, Cohen said. The company also operated the former Carroll Theater in downtown Westminster, now home to the Carroll Arts Center, until the mall theater opened in the early 1980s.

“I’ve wanted Westminster since it was built,” Cohen said. “When the opportunity came up, we jumped on it.”

In contrast to the smaller R/C, outgoing owner Regal Cinemas is one of the largest theater operators in the country, with 560 theaters across 43 states, according to the company website.

Regal’s last day of operations at TownMall will be Monday, May 21, Cohen said, with the theater closed Tuesday for the transition and, if all goes well, reopening as R/C Theatres Movies 9 on Wednesday, May 23.

Beyond the new name, some of the first changes people will see at the theater will be lower prices for tickets and concessions, according to Cohen. The electric reclining seats with footrests may take a little longer, likely not before September, he said, though example chairs will be on display in TownMall soon.

“They are back-ordered,” he said. Even if he ordered them tomorrow, “it could take, four, six, eight weeks.”

The theater’s nine screens will continue operating smoothly after R/C takes possession, Cohen said, and the company will assess what other improvements can be made over time without disrupting service to customers. The $1 Summer Kids Movie Series scheduled for June 19 through Aug. 15 is still on, according to a TownMall media release.

“We are thrilled to welcome R/C Theatres to TownMall,” general manager Robyn Clark is quoted as having said in a news release.

The changes at the theater are just the latest since new ownership — Westminster Mall LLC, an affiliate of Baltimore-based real estate firm Himmelrich Associates — took over the mall property in December. In April, the mall celebrated three grand openings for The Gym, COB51 art studio and the Westminster Barbershop.

Himmelrich Associates President Sam Himmelrich said his company plans to keep making incremental improvements to the mall over time and, when it came to the theater, R/C was an impressive suitor.

“Of those folks we spoke to, their reputation for being thoughtful and running good theaters caused them to represent the quality we thought the mall deserved,” Himmelrich said. “We’re very excited about it, and we hope we can continue to make the mall better for the folks in Carroll County.”

And as moviegoers prepare for the first day of R/C Theatres Movies 9 on Wednesday, Monday is something of a last call, according to Cohen. Although they share an “R” in their names, Regal and R/C are separate companies, and R/C cannot process Regal gift cards.

“All these good people who have gift cards, anything associated with Regal Cinemas, have an opportunity to use them without losing them,” he said, so long as they are used at TownMall by Monday. Those who miss that deadline can use them at other Regal Cinemas locations, like in Hunt Valley, or contact Regal Cinemas for other options for redemption.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Regal Cinemas’ last day of operations at TownMall. Regal will operate the theater through the evening of Monday, May 21. The theater will be closed Tuesday and reopen Wednesday as R/C Theatres Movies 9.


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