By Brooke Curley
SAFFORD – New owners, a new name, and some upcoming remodeling is a reality for the movie theater formally named the Sapphire Cineplex.
As of Dec. 1, the Sapphire Cineplex has been sold to the Allen Theatres franchise, becoming one of the first Allen Theatres locations in Arizona. New co-owner, Russel Allen, told Gila Valley Central that he is excited about the newest purchase, as well as giving a bit of a background of the Allen family’s history in the theater business.
The Allen family have been in New Mexico since 1884 when Frank Allen arrived at the age of 24. The Allen Opera house opened in 1912, showing its first motion picture and charging 10 cents per person. Since 1912, the Allen family have been in the theater business for four generations, and now owns theaters in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.
“The beauty of the movie business that the happenings in the movie world touches everyone’s life. Whether they go to the movies or not, they know what the leading actors and actresses are doing. They just know. People are very excited to come and watch the movie. Everybody that comes to be our customer, wants to be here, and happy to be here,” Allen said. “The other thing that I really like about the business that there are so many people throughout a community who has worked at a movie theater for their first job. We’re really training these young people for their next job.We tell all of our staff that we hire that we want this to be the most fun job you have your entire life, and when you’re older and trying to make a living you will remember what you learned and what you did when you were working for us.”
Allen told Gila Valley Central that many locations of the Allen Theatres are in rural areas and small towns, so he is quite familiar with the workings of rural communities.
“A lot of our theaters are in communities similar to Safford. We’re very familiar with smaller communities,” Allen said.
Multiple changes are in store for the former Saphire Cinemas. As of Dec. 1, the Saphire Cinemas theater has been renamed the Stargazer 5. Also, Allen told Gila Valley Central that remodeling is planned for the beginning of the year.
“After the first of the year, we will be doing an interior remodel. Putting in walls, putting more stuff in the snack bar to give it a new look, and we do anticipate adding reserved seating,” Allen said. “We have to do a lot of seats in our circuit, so we’ll be working that in.”
For many Gila Valley residents, Allen brought specifically good news in that the prices of the snack bar will be lowered.
“We’re looking at the snack bar prices and many, many of them will be dropping significantly in price,” Allen said. “Pricing will be different, and we have a frozen drink machine on order.”
Allen Theatres will be incorporating online ticket sales, new seating, and credit card sales in Morenci. Also, late showings will be available every night, so that local customers can go to the movies at the time of their convenience.
“We try to give our customers the best that we can,” Allen said. “Our goal is to give as many options as possible so our customers can come enjoy the best that Hollywood has to offer.”
For showtimes and information visit the Allen Theatres website by clicking here or click the link on the Gila Valley Central home page. Also, be sure to follow Allen Theatres on Facebook for the chance to be entered into contests that include trips to Hollywood, and giveaways. To visit the Allen Theatres Facebook page, click here.