UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP
Saracen Cinema 8 opens
By Shakari Briggs
OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF
After being temporarily shutdown for approximately two months, Pines Cinemas 8 now Saracen Cinema 8 is officially open for business. The closure came about as a result of what the new owners described as a much-needed facelift.
“I want the community to know we took the pit that was here, 60 or 90 days ago, and we have turned it into a palace compared to what we inherited…,” said Okorie Ezieme, Saracen Cinema 8 chief financial officer. “We want the community to know we’ve already created jobs. We want the community to know that here (Saracen Cinema 8) is a very safe environment (and) very clean.”
Ezieme and Steven Mays, Jr., Saracen Cinema 8 chief operating officer, bought the movie theater from The Pines Mall owner Judy Vu. Vu began managing the theater after the lease with Carmike Theaters ended in Jan. 2016. During that time, The Pine Bluff Commercial reported on various complaints of unsanitary conditions and allegations of showing patrons pirated films, all of which Vu denied.
“The main part of the pit was the infestation,” said Mays of cockroaches. “I can’t believe the (movie theater) was allowed to get to that point. We got the leaks (in the ceiling) taken care of, because if it leaked it would leak on the seats causing mildew. Those are things that weren’t taken care of by the previous owner.”
Mays insists that moviegoers will no longer experience issues in terms of cleanliness. While Saracen Cinema 8 remained closed, the new owners added extra lighting, repaired broken faucets in the restrooms, replaced movie screens with digital projectors and remodeled the concession stand. Also, a once unused ticket booth appears now to be fully operational. Additionally, Mays and Ezieme assert more changes are forthcoming.
“Right now, we have 126 seats and we will remove those seats and bring some recliners in and make it truly a VIP section,” said Ezieme. “Our auditorium number one is going to be the first one that we’re going to do.”
Recognizing that a lot of Southeast Arkansas residents travel to enjoy the movies, Mays and Ezieme, encourage movie buffs to make the newly acquired Saracen Cinema 8 their theater of choice.
“The location of our theater is a perfect location as far as Southeast Arkansas in being able to re-route traffic that’s been having to go to Little Rock or Monticello and now they have Pine Bluff to come to,” said Mays.
When it comes to saving money on traveling expenses and even more food options, the new owners maintain that Pine Bluff hails as the best option.
“The only thing separating us at this moment is a recliner,” said Mays of their auditorium-style theater seating. “We (will) have everything that Little Rock has even when we finish out with a mini bar. We have plans for that.”
As an independent movie theater, Mays says they have the flexibility to do a lot including hosting parties and large events. And with a staff of 12 ambassadors including a janitor to help bring their vision to life, the new owners hope the community supports it.
“We’re moving forward and we’re burying the past in the past,” said Mays. “We understand the traumatic experiences that family and friends and so many citizens have experienced. So, we’re just trying to let them know that it’s under new ownership and new management. We’re customer-driven and they will not experience those things anymore.”
For tickets and showtimes, visit www.saracencinema8.com or call (870) 619-1151.