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Springfield IMAX slated for November opening

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As soon as November, Branson might no longer hold the closest IMAX movie theater. Overland Park, Kan.-based ShowPlex Cinemas Inc. recently announced plans to renovate its Springfield 8 theater, 3200 E. Montclair St., during the coming months, expanding the complex and adding an IMAX auditorium.

Renovation plans call for an expansion from eight to 11 auditoriums, including the IMAX theater; a remodeling of the lobby; converting existing auditoriums to digital projectors; and additional parking, according to a news release from the company.

With the upgrade, ShowPlex would change the name of the theater to Springfield 11 IMAX.

"We are extremely excited to bring IMAX to the city of Springfield," ShowPlex Cinemas CEO Al Lane said in the release, noting that construction started the end of March. According to a building permit on file with the city, the company contracted with Riverside-based Luke Draily Construction Co. Inc. for the job.

Officials from ShowPlex Cinemas and Luke Draily Construction could not be reached for comment by deadline.

The 2,400-seat Springfield 11 IMAX is scheduled for November completion, with the first IMAX showing, "Happy Feet 2," slated for Nov. 18.

The opening could mean a long coming triumph for local moviegoers, as companies have tried and failed to bring an IMAX theater to the area in the past.

Plans forged through a partnership between Dickinson Theatres and Kansas City-based developer DJ Christie Inc. intended to bring an IMAX theater to Nixa, along U.S. Highway 160, but were canceled in early 2008 due to sinkholes being found on the property, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.

The proposed IMAX was instead placed on the 2009 docket for Dickinson Theatres' Springfield location, but the plans were put on hold due to financial issues. ShowPlex Cinemas Inc., which was created in May 2010 when it acquired 10 Dickinson Theatres locations, including the Springfield theater, appears to be continuing in those footsteps.

Plans to add an IMAX theater as part of the renovations of the Wonders of Wildlife museum  - spearhead by Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris - were squelched in 2007.
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