STOCKTON, CA-Downtown Stockton is on tap for a new 18-screen movie theater. Redondo Beach, CA-based cinema developer Krikorian Premiere Theatres says it will build and operate a 90,000-sf theater with multiple movie screens, a digital sound system, stadium seating and in-chair cup holders. A firm construction timeline has yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, due to overbuilding, four of the nation’s largest movie theater chains have already sought protection from creditors, and financial analysts have been predicting that Regal Cinemas, the largest chain, also is headed to bankruptcy. Nonetheless, Stockton and other communities including Redwood City and Pleasant Hill are hoping to cure their slumping downtowns with new movie theaters.

The Stockton project is slated for land north of the Hotel Stockton, which is being revamped for commercial use by Costa Mesa-based Civic Partners. Both projects have downtown business boosters thrilled. The Downtown Stockton Alliance estimates the new theater will bring an additional 700,000 to 800,000 visitors to the area annually. The group also says it expects between 30 and 40 new businesses to spring up in the area around the proposed movie theater, which is being considered a catalyst for downtown Stockton.

With housing prices and traffic both creating headaches in the Valley’s inner core, city officials say Stockton is quickly becoming a viable option for office-seekers as well as would-be homeowners, and officials here are beginning to express “cautious optimism” about the renewal of their long-sleepy downtown.

Several suburban Bay Area towns are working to give their downtowns a boost through theater projects. Redwood City on the San Francisco Peninsula is considering a proposed $75 million cinema project, while Pleasant Hill in Contra Costa County is putting the finishing touches on its new downtown with the construction of a 16-screen Century Theaters theater.

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