OXFORD — The curtain went up on the new, improved Flagship Premium Cinema at the Oxford Shopping Plaza on Wednesday night.

The cinema closed in September 2014 because of falling ticket sales and the expensive industry-mandated conversion to digital projections. It had been the sole movie venue in Oxford Hills for 17 years.

Workers spent weeks renovating the theater into a state-of-the art facility, including digital projectors and upgraded sound systems, large, stuffed seating, a concession stand featuring popcorn, Pepsi and other products, and a new self-service Pepsi stand.

“We’re hands-on,” Paul Wenger, vice president of the nationwide theater chain, said last week as he worked with a table saw. 

Flagship has theaters in Auburn, Thomaston, Waterville and Wells and throughout Massachusetts, Vermont, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The owners are banking on the new movie-going experience to bring people in.

Although ticket prices will increase, the seven screens will provide the flexibility in offerings necessary to keep business going.

The luxury seating will reduce capacity by about 50 percent but provide the moviegoer with a more comfortable experience.

“You will be able to reserve your favorite seat,” Wenger said.
The lobby features 50- by 70-inch vintage movie posters that Flagship had manufactured for each theater. In Oxford, moviegoers will see posters that include “Jaws” and Wenger’s favorite, “Ironman.”

The theater reopening came about during a lunch meeting between Flagship Cinema President John Crowley and building owner Bob Bahre, when Bahre said he wanted to make a deal that would allow the theater to reopen.

The theater name has been changed to FPC — Flagship Premium Cinema — to reflect its new luxury features.

This week the cinema is showing “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Pete’s Dragon,” “Jason Bourne,” “Suicide Squad,” “War Dogs,” “Bad Moms” and “Sausage Party.” The thriller “Don’t Move” will begin Friday.

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