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MARBLE FALLS, TX-An eight-screen movie theater is set for Marble Falls, a town of 5,064 residents about 50 miles northwest of Austin. The Great Texas Movie Co. LLC says construction should get under way in mid-December on the $4.2-million project. The Driftwood Theatre is eyeing a June 1 opening, just in time for the summer movie season.

Great Texas, based in Granbury, TX, will convert a 36,300-sf building that has been a grocery store and antique mall into a 30,000-sf theater with eight screens, all stadium seating for 1,419 viewers. About 5,000 sf of the remaining space will be leased for general retail. A Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Sutherlands store are on either side of the theater.

Ken Blevins of Austin-based Cinema Building Services has designed the theater in art deco style. Haskett Commercial Mortage of Mission Viejo, CA is financing the project.

The Driftwood Theatre would be the third under the banner of Great Movie and its affiliated company, Premier Theatres Inc. It owns the Driftwood Theatre 6 in Granbury and the Ridgmar Movie Tavern, which opens next week in Ft. Worth.

Three entrepreneurs formed Great Movie in 1998. They are Jeffrey Benson, its CEO; Jamie Benson, CFO; and Dennis Butler, COO. They have financial backing from about 30 investors.

The trio expects the theater to draw customers from the 50,000 full-time residents it says live within a 20-mile radius of the site. Marble Falls is the hub of the Highland Lakes area, which includes the Horseshoe Bay resort and residential area. The company says it has identified other communities in which to put theaters and plans to begin raising money to build them.

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