[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
AUSTINTOWN — Golden Star Theaters, a family-owned movie theater chain based in New Castle, Pa., recently expanded to the Mahoning Valley with the opening of Golden Star Theaters Austintown Cinema.
Golden Star Theaters Austintown Cinema, 6020 Mahoning Ave., was previously Regal Cinemas in the Austintown Plaza.
Joe Rethage, operations manager of Golden Star Theaters, told Mahoning Matters the building underwent a $2.5 million dollar overhaul which included:
- Remodeling the front of the building with repairs to all neon signs and fresh paint;
- Gutting and replacing everything in the lobby: new flooring, box office, concession stand, equipment and digital signage;
- Adding a bar and kitchen;
- Replacing office and arcade rooms with a party room;
- Adding new wallpaper, carpet and digital poster cases in the hallway;
- Remodeling all 10 theaters by adding new drapes, new screens, new Dolby 7.1 sound and replaced all seats with electronic leather recliners
- Replaced all digital projectors.
With the addition of a new kitchen, Rethage said the theater serves hot food that isn't typically on a movie theater’s menu — like pizza and chicken. Golden Star Theaters Austintown Cinema also has a liquor license and plans to serve alcoholic beverages in the near future.
Golden Star Theaters owners Frank Moses and George Moses were looking to get into the Mahoning Valley market for a while and wanted to take advantage of expanding to Austintown as soon as the opportunity was presented, said Rethage.
“[Frank Moses and George Moses] felt that Austintown — being close to Youngstown and, you know, the population — they felt it was just a fantastic area to bring this into the market and after doing the research that this type of luxury movie theater feel would do well and that people respond well to that type of theater,” he said.
Although Golden Star Theaters was eager to bring their luxury-style movie experience to a new area, Rethage told Mahoning Matters that opening up during the COVID-19 pandemic was not the initial plan.
“The planning started way back in 2019 and our goal was, when we took the theater over in January, we were hoping to be open in 90 days. Then, obviously, when [COVID-19] hit that changed things drastically so our plan was never opened up during the pandemic,” Rethage said.
“[The COVID-19 pandemic has] devastated the movie theater business. In general, movie theaters are down 80 percent and it's a combination of, of course, the pandemic — people's concerns [about] going out. But, you know, a lot of it is the movie studios are hesitant to release movies,” he added. “There's not a big lure to get people to come to movies right now and that's real tough for us.”
Due to a lack of new movies, Golden Star Theaters Austintown Cinema is showing re-released movies alongside new releases at a discounted rate.
New releases are priced at $8.25 for an adult matinee (before 4 p.m.) and $11 for evening tickets, or $7.50 for children and seniors. Re-released movies are $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. On Tuesdays, all new releases are $6.
Showings on Monday through Friday begin at 4 p.m. and the last showing is at 8:45 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, showings begin at 11:45 a.m. and the last showing is at 8:45.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time and customers can pick their seats before entering the theater. Seats all currently spaced appropriately for social distance guidelines.
Moviegoers also have the opportunity to privately rent auditoriums for a small group of up to 10 or 20 people. Pricing varies from $50 to $140 depending on time, date and choice of movie. Additional information is here.
“The private showings fit a niche in that if people are hesitant to be in rooms with other people because of whatever concerns they might have, well, we eliminate that and let people come in and not be in a room of people they don't know,” Rethage said.
If movie fanatics would rather skip the in-theater experience, Golden Star Theaters Austintown Cinema is selling movie theater popcorn for take out, priced at $20 for a 3-pound bag with butter. Customers are encouraged to call ahead — 330-953-3436 —and give a pickup time so the popcorn is made fresh to order.
Although Golden Star Theaters Austintown Cinema opened during unprecedented circumstances, Rethage said the movie theater has received a nice response from the community since opening.