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Santikos Entertainment to spend more than $10 million on San Antonio movie theater makeovers

Santikos investing more than $10 million on pair of SA movie theater makeovers

Feb 8, 2017, 5:00am CST Updated: Feb 8, 2017, 9:44am CST

Roughly eight months after opening its newest movie theater, Santikos Enterprises is embarking on a multimillion-dollar plan to re-imagine its existing venues. The reinvestment is part of a larger strategy to drive up business and funnel more money to area nonprofits that need a boost, said David Holmes, the company’s CEO.

Santikos finished work on its first venue, completely transforming its Embassy 14 Theatre from the inside out. Next is a much larger undertaking, as Santikos will shift its focus to the Palladium IMAX complex on San Antonio’s far Northwest Side.

The Palladium makeover, which is in the design phase, is expected to deliver significant change to one of the company’s newer theaters. 

“What we are trying to capture is to get people to think of the Palladium as a destination,” Holmes said. “We want to increase the dwell time. And we want to have something to celebrate the movies.”

One possibility for the Palladium, which is about three times the size of the Embassy, is for it to become home to more of Santikos’ collection of rare motion picture memorabilia. 

The timeline for the Palladium project is aggressive as plans call for the work to be completed by fall.  “We want it to be ready for the holidays,” Holmes said. 

While Holmes said the Palladium makeover will be a “major logistical project,” like the Embassy, it will remain open during the renovation. 

The Embassy project represents a leap of faith of sorts for Santikos. And it could set a new bar for the competition.

“It was a complete ground-up restoration,” Holmes said. “It was state-of-the art for its time. But over the years, it became tired. We wanted something different.”

The complex has been completely gutted from the inside out. What moviegoers will now see is an entryway more reminiscent of a boutique hotel lobby, complete with a quaint bar. The theaters have been rebuilt to accommodate a more contemporary design, as well as new recliner seating, curved screens, digital projection and new audio systems.

Santikos officials would not divulge how much money the company spent on the Embassy project or the projected cost of the Palladium makeover. However, Holmes said the combined investment in the two projects is expected to be north of $10 million.

The Alamo City company traces its roots to entertainment and real estate mogul John Santikos, who died in late 2014, leaving his businesses and fortunes to a trust controlled by the San Antonio Area Foundation. As a result, a major portion of the revenue that Santikos theaters generate is directed to organizations and causes he supported.

“The model that Mr. Santikos left us could not be more simple,” Holmes said. “We take out revenue for expenses and we set aside money so that we can continue to do projects like this. Every other dollar goes to the Area Foundation — to the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation.”

With that in mind, at least two additional Santikos theaters in San Antonio are expected to get a new look as part of an effort to increase revenue.

“We want to reiterate our commitment to San Antonio,” Holmes said. “The bigger and more successful we are, the more we can do for the community.”

W. Scott Bailey

Reporter/Project Coordinator

San Antonio Business Journal

View story at San Antonio Business Journal