At 11 a.m. yesterday, the brand-new Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille in the brand-new Delray Beach Marketplace did not look ready for its close-up. Countless workers in construction garb and Frank Theatres polo shirts scurried about the complex, with drills, ladders and vacuums, making adjustments to a concession booth, restaurant and bowling alley that looked half-furnished, and in some cases only partially built.
The place had that new cinema smell, or maybe it was just the cleaning solvent. Let’s call it the scent of progress. By 8:30 p.m. tonight (Feb. 13), the 70,000-square-foot multiplex/bowling alley/restaurant hybrid is slated to open to the public in a plum location just west of Florida’s Turnpike off Atlantic Avenue. Movies will begin showing at 10 p.m., some of them premiering earlier than competing theaters. As you’re reading this, chances are the round-the-clock workers are still putting their finishing touches to meet a seemingly impossible deadline.
But president and CEO Bruce Frank was calm, cool and collected as he led a private press tour beyond the blue tape and tarp-covered auditorium entrances, discussing what sets this particular cinema apart.
“This is a company that has always focused on being leaders – taking the risk, taking the opportunity to think outside the box, investing our capital,” he said. “It’s the only facility in the world that has not just movie theaters and bowling but an IMAX and a second format called FDX – Frank Digital Extreme. It encompasses one of Dolby’s newest digital products. They refer to it as the voice of God. The speakers are overhead as well as right, left, front and back.
“We’ll probably be the most popular place to be at for birthday parties.”
Frank should know these things by now; the Jupiter resident was born into the theater business, the latest in a three-generation cinema dynasty. His grandfather introduced the first theater for talkies on the East Coast, and his father would go on to open the first twin cinema in the United States and one of the earliest multiplexes in the country, New Jersey’s Towne 16 Cinema. Innovation is kinda what he does.
To that end, in addition to the aforementioned surround-sound auditorium with Dolby Atmos – and its 128 different audio streams – Frank proudly unveiled to us his newest cinematic novelty: a chair called The Tremor that will be tied to a movie’s soundtrack, vibrating whenever something blows up on screen or probably even when a character’s cell phone buzzes. It’ll be test-marketed here before you feel it anywhere else.
His 85” by 55” IMAX screen is even more impressive. The state-of-the-art IMAX 3D is incredibly invasive, with images fluttering so close you’ll want to recline your chair back. In shots where shrapnel hits the camera lens, you’ll feel like it’s hitting your own glasses. It should wow even disaffected millenials.
There are too many bells and whistles attached to this project to list them all, not limited to a 16-lane “boutique” bowling alley with concierge service and a massive projection screen that can display up to 32 television channels at one time; a 192-seat bar and grille; and a video arcade whose redemption prizes include iPads and digital cameras. (where does Frank think he is, Boca? Just kidding.)
Frank says that one-stop shopping is the name is the game – to have a venue where families can eat, bowl, party, drink and take in an immersive movie without moving their cars (speaking of which, the theater offers free valet service). Let’s hope it pays off. According to Frank, Regal Delray Beach 18 will be closing soon, to be replaced by an L.A. Fitness. His Cinebowl & Grille looks more than capable of picking up the slack – assuming it makes its own opening deadline.
Frank Theatres Cinebowl & Grille is at 9025 W. Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach. It opens to the public at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 13. For information, call 561/776-4747.