Sunday, May 21, 2006

Edinburgh's Mall Needs Theater

Wouldn’t it be nice to go see a movie without having to go out of town?

Like almost everyone else in the world I went to see “The Da Vinci Code” over the weekend. This column isn’t meant to be for movie reviews, and I won’t give one here. But this is a film I was really rooting for.

It was expected to have a big opening, what with all the hype. And it actually exceeded expectations, the first film of the year to do so. The big test will be whether it can hold on to its big numbers in subsequent weeks.

Why was I rooting for it to succeed? I guess mainly because I wanted the public at large to give a giant raspberry to all the church groups who wanted to see it banned or boycotted. But, also, because I like it when any popular medium makes people think about what they believe. It’s good for them.

So now that I’ve gotten my mini-review out of the way, let me change gears a bit and get back to my original thought.

Although I thought the movie was awesome, with lots of action and even more mind-boggling intrigue, what would have made it even better is if Edinburgh residents didn’t have to go out of town to see it.

In most cities, there are movie theaters with 14, 16, even 20 screens. Edinburgh used to have a theater with one screen, but not any longer. But now that we have a major mall, shouldn’t it also have a theater?

I don’t know what the Simon Company has in mind ultimately, but if its long-range plans call for a multi-screen movie theater, that would be outstanding. People come from many miles away to visit our mall. Mall-goers often want to do more than just shop, especially if they have traveled quite a distance.

Amenities such as lots of restaurants, a food court, and entertainment venues such as an arcade and a movie theater are essential to the growth and development of a mall. Edinburgh Premium Outlets recently experienced a substantial growth phase. Unfortunately, a theater was not part of that expansion.

I’ve read recently that outside malls, such as Edinburgh’s, are becoming more popular at the expense of the larger, enclosed, regional malls. At first, that puzzled me. Who would want to go outside in whatever kind of weather that’s out there to go from shop to shop when they could remain inside a climate-controlled, protected environment and do the same thing?

But the reasons given do make sense. Outside malls offer more convenience, in the same sense that neighborhood quick marts are more convenient, although more expensive, than supermarkets.

Especially for shoppers who have one thing in mind, it’s easier to park, perhaps with a view of your target store in site. And you generally don’t have to walk as far. It’s quicker. And when the weather is nice, it’s even more enjoyable to go outside.

So Edinburgh’s mall is trendy. It’s popular. And it draws customers from all over the place. What would make it much better, though, is if it had a movie theater.

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