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Grand opening this weekend for Meadowdale Theatres

by Linda Hiller

You might call the Meadowdale cinema, the “little theater that could.”

The Gardnerville theater began as an idea to fill an empty retail space in Bill Tomerlin’s Meadowdale Shopping Center, built in 1977.

“We had this dead corner in the shopping center, so I built a twin theater in 1978 and it’s been a theater ever since,” said Tomerlin, a Carson Valley businessman. “There hadn’t been a theater in town for some time, so the the little theater did well.”

Through the years and three different operators, Gardnerville’s Meadowdale Theater chugged along, providing two (or so) hours of fantasy and escape through movies to residents of the Carson Valley and anyone who paid the price of admission.

But the Valley grew, and last July a new theater opened across town – the $5 million Ironwood Cinema 8, boasting state-of-the-art sound equipment, high-back stadium seating and wall-to-wall screens.

After 20 years of being the only theater in town, business at the Meadowdale Theater for the first time started to wane. The movie house closed in November. But in January, Wallace Theater Corp., with 188 theaters in operation, decided to take a chance on the M eadowdale, and assumed the lease.

n Some old, some new. After upgrading the sound systems in all three theaters to state-of-the-art digital surround sound and renovating the lobby, the “New Meadowdale 3 Theater” will be back in the business of bringing the latest movies to Carson Valley.

“Wallace Theaters really has the buying power to bring the top movies here,” Tomerlin said. “The movie industry is very selective about where the films go.”

One of the “selective” aspects which will benefit both Valley theaters is the fact that they will not carry the same movies at the same time. Between the two movie houses, a total of 11 titles will be available to film-goers.

David Lyons, Wallace director of marketing, said the company is aware of the reputation of the “old” Meadowdale Theater, and will try to resume its past performance and atmosphere, with a few exceptions.

“We are a medium-sized circuit, and our philosophy is catering to the special needs of a community,” Lyons said. “The New Meadowdale 3 Theater will still have the best possible value on first-run movies in a small town, homey atmosphere, and we are upgrading the sound system and doing some renovations inside.”

n Grand Opening this weekend. The New Meadowdale 3 Theater will reopen Friday with festivities all weekend as well as the three first-run movies.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all theater patrons will receive a complimentary bag of fresh popped popcorn, a fountain soda of their choice and an all-beef hot dog.

From 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, customers may participate in the spinning of the famous “Wallace Theater’s Prize Wheel,” with movie-related prizes available for winners. In addition, all patrons will be eligible to enter a raffle for a year’s worth of movie passes.

“This will be an exciting opening celebration highlighted by numerous prize giveaways, complimentary concession items and even a vintage U.S. Army searchlight to light up the sky over Gardnerville and Minden,” Lyons said.

n What’s playing, how much? “Payback,” a thriller with Mel Gibson, “Simply Irresistible,” a romantic comedy with Sarah Michele Gellar and “Elizabeth,” winner of this year’s Golden Globe award for Best Drama, will be playing starting Friday.

Prices for movies at the New Meadowdale 3 Theater will be $3.50 for seniors 55 and older and children 3 to 11 all the time; $4 for bargain matinees before 6 p.m. daily; and $6.50 for adults after 6 p.m.

Managing the theater will be Todd Bloomhuff, who began his career in the movie house business as an usher in Iowa, Lyons said. He has been with Wallace Theater Corp. since 1993 and most recently managed the New Lakeside 4 Theater at South Lake Tahoe.

The New Meadowdale 3 Theater is located at 1267 Highway 395 in south Gardnerville. For showtimes, call 782-4181.

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