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Movie theater reopens today at Willmar's Kandi Mall

Erica Dischino / Tribune Movie-goers buy food at the concession stand Feb. 22 at the movie theater in the Kandi Mall soon before its closing. Reel Lux Cinemas opens the new theater’s doors today. 1 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune Employee Stella Peppin tests out the new movie theater chairs during her training shift at Reel Lux Cinemas in the Kandi Mall Thursday. The chairs are expected to be installed by fall. 2 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune Greg Israel, general manager of the new Reel Lux Cinemas Kandi 6 movie theater, speaks Thursday about additional changes to be made at the theater in the fall. 3 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune Reel Lux Cinemas employees prepare for opening day Thursday at the Kandi Mall in Willmar. 4 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune Zack Leediker, assistant manager at Reel Lux Cinemas, trains new employees on how to use the popcorn machine Thursday before the movie theater opens its doors. 5 / 6
Erica Dischino / Tribune Freshly painted walls and ceiling are part of the many changes made to the new Reel Lux Cinemas Kandi 6 movie theater at the Kandi Mall in Willmar. The movie theater is set to open today after the AMC branch closed in late February. 6 / 6

WILLMAR — The curtain is rising on the latest sequel of the Kandi Mall movie theater story. Reel Lux Cinemas Kandi 6 is opening today with the first movie starting at 6:45 p.m.

Reel Lux Cinemas, a new luxury movie theater company, took over the Willmar theater when AMC pulled out and closed the doors on Feb. 22.

"People were really disturbed there wouldn't be a movie theater this summer," said General Manager Greg Israel.

To make sure Willmar wouldn't get used to not having a theater, Reel Lux wanted to reopen as quickly as it could.

"We want to bring movies back to Willmar," Israel said.

Movie goers this weekend will see an updated lobby and concession stand, with a fresh coat of paint and new lighting. Digital screens will welcome ticket holders to each individual auditorium.

"Those are the big things right now," Israel said.

For its first week in operation the theater will be showing "Ready Player One," "Black Panther," "Peter Rabbit" and "I Can Only Imagine." Tickets are available for purchase online at www.reellux.com or at the theater box office. There will be free popcorn to celebrate the opening weekend.

Another change to the theaters customers will see, or rather hear, sooner rather than later is an updated sound system.

"The sound system hasn't been updated since it opened," decades ago, Israel said.

Hopefully within the next few weeks all the auditoriums will be 7.1 channel capable, which gives moviegoers a more immersive sound experience with speakers located throughout the theater.

Kandi 6 will also have extended hours. Monday through Friday the theater will start showing movies at noon. Summer hours will be extended even further. The theater will also be showing previously released kids movies during the summer for $1 per ticket.

Even bigger changes are coming to the mall theater this fall when Reel Lux begins installing reclining theater seats, expanding the concession offerings and putting down new carpet.

The new seats, which recline at the touch of a button, will decrease the number of seats in the auditoriums by about 55 percent, but the additional showtimes brought by extended hours will still give people plenty of opportunities to see the newest blockbusters. When tickets are purchased customers will choose where they want to sit. This will make it possible to have seatside delivery of concessions before the movie. While the menu is still being finalized, new foods could include things like chicken strips, shakes and iced coffees.

Willmar's theater will be the first Reel Lux Cinema opened in the country, though Israel said the company also manages Golden Ticket Cinemas in North Carolina. The second Reel Lux location in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is expected to open in late April.

Based off of comments left on the Reel Lux Cinemas Kandi 6 Facebook page the Willmar region's movie lovers are looking forward to Reel Lux coming to town, just as much as Reel Lux is looking forward to being in Willmar.

"Our goal is to be part of your community," Israel said. "We want to be completely involved in all of that."

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