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Let's go on with the show

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Geoffrey Geiger

Currently the operator of 42 movie screens in Texas, ShowBiz Cinemas, of Dallas, have added 14 additional ones, taking ownership of Kingwood’s Starplex Cinemas location. ShowBiz Cinemas CEO Kevin Mitchell said, “Our plan is to implement a seamless transition. We are not planning to experience any interruption in business, change the current age restriction policies, stop monthly sensory screenings, discontinue the weekly mommy matinees or get rid of the $1 hotdogs.” Mitchell said in a followup interview he doesn’t expect to adjust many existing policies and marketing practices for the location, but rather continue to accommodate the customers. While Starplex steadily became a familiar brand in the area, Mitchell believes customers and the community can expect the same service quality and theatre experience from ShowBiz. “We want to continue to be involved in the community and the schools,” Mitchell said. “I firmly believe kids are our future, so we’re going to give free passes to those that get straight As or have perfect attendance,” he said, clarifying that it would be based on a yearly report. Some of the expected changes are to include ShowBiz refillable popcorn tubs, theatre seat adjustments and a new card rewards program. Mitchell said customers with existing Star Rewards card points can be transitioned into the ShowBiz system, and since it is on a different point rate, ShowBiz will deposit five points into new card accounts in exchange for the existing Starplex cards. For 25 points on the ShowBiz system, customers can earn a free movie ticket, whereas under the Starplex system, it took 250 points for that same reward. Both systems were similarly designed for points per dollars spent. Mitchell also said that fire and police employees would receive a complimentary ticket. “This is a way of giving back,” Mitchell said. Mitchell said for the first 90 days, ShowBiz will have the ability to exchange the equivalent value of Starplex gift cards with ShowBiz ones. This is the only Starplex location being acquired by ShowBiz, according to Mitchell. Ticket and concession prices are not expected to change. “We want this to be as easy as possible on everyone with the change,” Mitchell said. Staff size at the is not expected to alter much under the new owners. The current employee count is between 50 and 60, with many being seasonal personnel. The new general manager, Rob Warnes, who has been with ShowBiz since October, said that most employees are continuing under the new ownership, with a few shifts in management, but those changes are due to circumstances other than ownership demands. According to Mitchell, many employees, including seasonal, become long-term. “We take that as a great compliment,” Mitchell said about the longevity and the perceived work environment. “We try to provide a place for people to enjoy their jobs,” Mitchell said. Starplex’ community liaison Ted Mandel will continue in his role under ShowBiz. “Usually the general manager is the face of the theatre and becomes well involved in the community. Ted has been helpful in my transition here, and will continue to help our theatre,” Warnes said. “We are a community-oriented business,” Mitchell said. Mandel said he was excited for the new opportunities ShowBiz can bring to the area as the it will maintain Starplex’ level of community involvement. Warnes said a few have applied for work at the facility, but ShowBiz has not assertively pursued any new hiring specifically for this location. Phone calls to the Starplex corporate office in Dallas were not returned by press time. Starplex opened its Kingwood location in June 2010.

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