Monterey IMAX set to open in April
Theater will include a restaurant-bar and an art gallery.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
In other words, when Bella Cinema CEO Fred Weinert says the Edgewater Packing Building near Cannery Row has been reinvented, he’s not kidding.
“We wanted people to see a transformation,” he says, comfortable amidst the dusty bustle of the work site despite his incongruously expensive clothes. “That’s what they’ll see.”
The project began around two years ago with four months worth of studies to determine if such a project was possible given the historic status of the building and the archaic condition of its constitution – and whether the IMAX theater would fit.
“We were looking at building a structure within a structure,” Weinert says, “We asked the city ‘What can’t we do and what can we?’ ”
And despite a number of disruptive discoveries, the massive project proceeds according to schedule – when workers began digging to clear the basement floor, they found huge antiquated cement tubs once meant to stash sardine catches; elsewhere, pooling water drained from New Monterey’s sloping streets further complicated matters. “All of [the process] was a surprise,” Weinert says. “There was no such thing as prints when this thing was first built.”
Nevertheless, according to Weinert, the theater will open – complete with a 50-foot copper waterfall, live coral reef aquarium and an art gallery featuring the work of French painter Guy Buffet – within the next 30 days. (The full-service restaurant-bar, tentatively named 640 after the theater’s address, will open 120 days later.)
In fact, the theater itself looks ready to host its capacity crowd of 290 tomorrow. Weinert says programming will range from regionally relevant flicks (like National Geographic’s Sea Monsters, which will be the first film shown) to contemporary Hollywood productions designed for the IMAX format (like U2 3D). Future shows will incorporate Aquarium expertise and explore local wonders like Monterey Bay’s marine canyon.
Weinert evaluates the overall effect without the hyperbole that waterfalls, espresso and sea monsters often inspire: “The interior,” he says, “will be a new experience.”