SARATOGA SPRINGS — It is Showtime in downtown Saratoga Springs. In a big way.
The new Bow Tie Criterion Theater is set to open this Friday Boasting 1,825 seats spread among 11 theaters with custom leather rocking chairs—and there is a full time employee who actually tests each and every chair to ensure they meet the company’s “rocking” standards—Dolby surround sound and screens that are larger than imaginable, the movie theater is elegant, expansive and enticing.
And surprisingly inexpensive—evening movie times are only $12 (matinee price for adults is $9 and the BTX theater has a small surcharge) with matinees as cheap as $4.50 (with a Bow Tie Loyalty Card) and the most expensive food item is $8.50 for six sliders. Bow Tie’s Signature popcorn, which is popped fresh daily and can be topped with real butter, is also reasonably priced with the largest box of popcorn at $7.25 with one free refill.
They also will be featuring a Super Tuesday special price of $6 all day long to watch a movie.
“We heard Saratoga has dark Tuesdays, so we are having Super Tuesdays to go along with that tradition,” said Joseph Masher, chief operating office for Bow Tie Cinemas.
Entering into the two-story tall glass façade lobby, the cinema is sleek and expansive with a curved concession stand, ticket desk and kiosks for printing pre-purchased tickets, as well as purchasing tickets for future shows and present day.
“We are very excited,” said Joe Masher, chief operating officer of Bow Tie Cinemas. “It has been a very amazing response. Saratoga is such a vibrant community and a year-round city and we are excited about opening here.”
Bow Tie is on the cutting edge of movie theaters. No longer dependent on film, almost every movie is delivered digitally by satellite or hard drive.
The selections are sent to the theater, which then makes it choices. Once the show times are selected, a special code is sent to the theater operator and entered into a master computer.
“That sends the right movie to the right theater,” said Craig O’Conner, vice president of Bow Tie. “In the last three to four years, we switched over to digital—unlike film which will have blips and scratches, digital is always a beautiful and pristine presentation.”
The company also was able to secure the lease for the Wilton Mall theater where they will be showing Hollywood blockbusters. It is scheduled to open Friday, October 25.
“[The Railroad Place theater] is more upscale,” said Mosher. “We will have the Classics series, specials like the Rolling Stones Hyde Park Live and Royal Opera House series.”
The company also has introduced the capacity for patrons to download their pre-purchased tickets onto their smartphone, where they can go directly to the theater instead of purchasing or picking up tickets.
“You can buy the ticket on your phone and just walk up and have it scanned and not have to wait in line,” said Masher.
The 58,000 square-foot complex at the corner of Church Street and Railroad Place houses the theater on the first level and has two upper floors with mixed use spaces, of which all but about 4,000-square-feet have been leased.
“It is a pretty amazing transformation from the old Price Chopper,” said developer Sonny Bonacio said at Wednesday’s media event. “It has been 39 years since there was a movie theater downtown and we always wanted to bring one back.”
Masher agreed, noting that while they expect a lot of their traffic to be from pedestrians, there are also close to 800 parking spaces available.
Continuing, Masher said the intended movie for Thursday night’s fundraiser—which has raised over $24,000 so far for Saratoga Community Health Center—was not ready, so they plan on showing the 2013 movie Kill Your Darlings.
He explained they had wanted to open with a special showing of “12 Years a Slave,” a story about a free man lured from Saratoga Springs into slavery, but they are not able to screen that movie until November.
“The movie we had wanted for the opening was not ready to be screened publically,” said Masher.
The history of Bow Tie Cinemas began over 100 years ago when B.S. Moss began his career providing popular entertainment to the public. The business of operating street front Nickelodeons quickly gave way to Vaudeville, which was the heart of B.S. Moss Theaters until the 1930s when B.S. Moss sold his last Vaudeville theater and dedicated himself fully to building and operating motion picture theaters.
In 1936, B.S. Moss opened the Criterion Theater, known then as The Theater of Tomorrow, on Broadway in the “bow tie” of Times Square. The Criterion was the first motion picture theater built exclusively for showing talking motion pictures. It operated continuously for 63 years and was the home of several major New York film premiers including Sleeping Beauty, Lawrence of Arabia and Alien.
The Saratoga location is similar to other Bow Tie theaters with the custom-made leather rocking chairs, wall-to-wall screens and Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound. In Saratoga, the 11 auditoriums range in size from 150 seats to 275, all with stadium seating so the tall person who sits in front you is still not blocking your view.
As for the custom-made leather seats, Masher said they are guaranteed to be especially comfortable for patrons.
“Every seat is checked,” said Masher in response to a question about why some had a piece of blue tape on the backrest. “Those obviously did not feel quite right to our seat checker and need to be adjusted.”
During the media event, the Hobbitt movie trailer was shown in the Bow Tie Xtreme auditorium.
As sound came from each corner of the theater, the image came to life on the 2,000-square-foot screen where even the tiniest details could be seen, including the speckled eyebrows of Thranduil.
Gravity is scheduled to be shown this weekend in the BTX auditorium in 3D.
“You will feel like you are floating around in space with Sandra Bullock,” said Masher.
Movies scheduled for the following week are: The Birds—Saturday and Sunday matinee at $4.50 with a loyalty card; Captain Phillips; Carrie; Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2; Enough Said; Escape Plan; Fifth Estate; Gravity (!;(1:20 p.m. each day); Gravity 3D; Gravity 3D BTX; Poltergeist; Runner Runner; and Rush.
Ciné Classics run each Saturday and Sunday morning—$5.50 without the Criterion card—are featuring The Birds this weekend; Ghostbusters October 26 and 27; Whatever Happened to Baby Jane November 2 and 3; and Some Like It Hot November 9 and 10.
Insomnia Theater, also $5.50 without the card, begins at 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays and will show Poltergeist this weekend; Ghostbusters the following; and Spaceballs the weekend after.
Some auditoriums are also available for rent for private parties, showing either a movie presently being played at the theater or one of your own.
For a complete listing of upcoming shows and to purchase tickets, visit their website at www.bowtiecinemans.com.