Theater Opening Delayed

Nov. 3rd opening called due to rain

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If you've been counting down the days until the Nov. 3rd opening of the six-screen Sawmill Theaters, stop counting.

Construction setbacks due to wet weather have pushed back the opening date perhaps by several weeks.

"We will definitely be open by Thanksgiving," said Brian Deveny, president of the Arizona Theatre Owners Association and the manager of Payson's long-awaited multi-screen theater, which has been under construction since April. "If we can open sooner than that, we will. But we have to open by Thanksgiving so we can hit the ground running with the major holiday releases."

Prior to the past week's heavy rains, construction had been on schedule, Deveny said. "But right now it's like we're stranded in the middle of a lake. It has slowed everything down."

Thus far, the focus of the construction has remained on the building itself, with the bulk of movie-theater touches such as the concession stand, screens, sound systems, the seats and marquee slated for installment when everything else is complete.

However, Deveny said, this weekend will mark the arrival of the Sawmill Theaters' most vital (and expensive) pieces of equipment: the projectors.

To make up for the disappointing news of his theater's delayed opening, Deveny did offer an upbeat update. Even though the cineplex boasts a total of six screens, he said, there may often be more than six films featured.

"There is a booking process called 'stacking' which we would most commonly apply to children's films," he said. "For example, when a movie like the upcoming 'Rugrats in Paris' has been playing for a few weeks, and there is no longer an evening audience for it, we might start showing it only at matinees, and book another film into the same auditorium for evening performances."

It was for that reason the numberless name Sawmill Theaters was selected, Deveny said.

"If it was called the Sawmill 6 Theaters, and we were showing eight or nine films, that would confuse people and perhaps limit our own options. We didn't want to do either of those things."

As for which movies will see the light of projector when the theaters open, Deveny has a revised list that's subject to change and not at all weatherproof.

Joining the previously-announced titles "Charlie's Angels" and "Red Planet," Deveny hopes to include:

"Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas," starring a heavily furred and latexed Jim Carrey as that holiday ogre with a heart full of unwashed socks. Directed by Ron Howard, and co-starring Jeffrey Tambor and Christine Baranski.

"Little Nicky," a comedy with Adam Sandler as the son of Satan (Harvey Keitel).

"The Sixth Day," a futuristic action-thriller wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger discovers he has secretly been cloned.

"Rugrats in Paris," the second big-screen feature to be spun from Nickelodeon's animated TV series.

Depending on when the theater opens, Deveny said, the above lineup could see two additions or changes to include two films slated for national release on Wed., Nov. 22:

"102 Dalmatians," Disney's slapstick sequel to the live-action remake of its animated 1962 hit (pant, pant) stars Glenn Close, once again, as puppy-hating Cruella De Vil, along with Gerard Depardieu as fellow dognapper Jean Pierre Le Pelt.

"Unbreakable," another supernatural thriller from Bruce Willis and M. Night Shymalan, the star and writer-director of "The Sixth Sense." This time, Willis plays a man who survives a devastating train crash without a scratch.

Sawmill Theaters ticket prices, Deveny said, will be $6 general admission, $4 for children under 12 and senior citizens over 65, and $4 for all daily matinee screenings which begin prior to 6 p.m.

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