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Premiere Cinemas in Soledad officially opens

SOLEDAD, Calif. (KION) People who live in Soledad no longer have to drive all the way to Salinas to see the latest films on the big screen. Premiere Cinemas, the city's first movie theater in 30 years, has officially opened for business. Their first showing was scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Friday.

"Our community members kept asking, 'When is the theater coming?' So we're super excited to be able to let them know that we actually have a theater," said Soledad Mayor Anna Velazquez.

Plans for a movie theater in Soledad began all the way back in 2004. But problems during the recession put the project on hold. Premiere Cinemas, which also has theaters in Hollister and Los Banos, took over the project in 2015.

After facing construction delays, the theater was officially set to open in 2020. But the pandemic put a wrench in those plans.

"We had hoped that we would open up a little bit before. But COVID has been a challenge to movie theaters. So to be able to be at this point today, it's really exciting for the community," said Brent Slama, Soledad City Manager.

This theater is just the beginning of a bigger project to bring more jobs and storefronts to the city.

"130,000 square feet of commercial and retail has been approved already for the city. The theater was an anchor to be able to bring the other retail and commercial," said Velazquez.

Velazquez says the theater brought 200 construction jobs to the city during the pandemic. They now employ 30 people from the community, many of them students.

"So many people have to go out of town to work, and the more we can bring jobs to keep them here so they don't have to drive to their jobs, the better the community will be," said Slama.

Slama also says the project will help keep tax dollars to help benefit the City of Soledad, rather than people driving to other areas. Previously, the closest theaters to Soledad were in Salinas and King City.

"This makes sure that our sales tax stay here and Soledad, and that our families, most importantly, get to enjoy those memories and and make those memories here in Soledad in this theater," said Velazquez.

You can view showtimes and purchase tickets online here.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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