Although Las Vegas is never at a loss for entertainment—from topless showgirls to (almost) bottomless showboys—many of us still yearn for the simple pleasures of a night at the movies. We go out in droves for the latest blockbuster, pay $5 for $2 Junior Mints and sit mesmerized for three hours, sticky floor and all. But in order to enjoy the national pastime in Las Vegas, you’d better make sure you’re on the south side of the Valley. With the abundance of theaters stacked on the Strip or in off-strip hotel casinos, it’s slim pickings for Downtown Las Vegas residents seeking a cinematic experience.
You might remember Galaxy Theaters, the 11-screen complex in Fremont Street’s Neonopolis. It’s 2009 closure led way to a highly published, but ultimately unrealized opening of what would’ve been the world’s largest gay nightclub, Krave Massive. Krave’s plan was to take Galaxy’s spot and utilize two of its big screens for independent, gay and lesbian film screenings. But once that fell through, so did any future plans of reinstating the theaters.
Unfinished construction efforts left the theater’s building in limbo, and it remains that way today—a half-started nightclub in the skeleton of a multiplex. Loraine Kusuhara, wife of Neonopolis Manager Rohit Joshi, says that plans for the theater’s redevelopment are currently at a standstill due to financial restraints. “Krave left us with 17 million dollars in damages,” Kusuhara says. “So the building is just sitting there for now.”
But it’s not all bad news for Downtown movie-goers seeking silver screens. It was reported last January that Eclipse Theaters, a stand-alone 8-screen, 550-seat theater complex was making its way to the Downtown corner of 3rd Street and Gass Avenue in fall 2014. At three stories tall, Eclipse would include levels devoted to retail and restaurants and is promised to be a one-of-a-kind movie theater experience.
The “about” info on Eclipse Theaters’ Facebook page asks you to “imagine a venue that hosts movie premieres… invites A-list actors” and “washes your car while you watch a movie.” But you may want to hold that thought, at least until next year: The complex is now looking at an April 2015 opening. According to Eclipse’s Operating Manager Nic Steele, the delay stems from design adjustments, as amenities like a VIP event space and third-floor box seats are added to the theaters’ roster of offerings.
“In terms of design, we would rather have everything correct going into construction,” says Steele.
By the way: You may have noticed, or even contributed to, Eclipse’s Indiegogo campaign, which was created in an effort to raise $200,000 from the Las Vegas community. The campaign, which opened last Christmas, closed after earning just under $2,000.
Steele says this is in no way a reflection of Eclipse’s progress, but rather a matter of webpage maintenance.
“It became too much effort to run,” he says, adding that it proved unnecessary in any case: “We have received a great amount of financial support from the Las Vegas community outside of the website.”
You may have also heard murmurs of a possible theater complex adjoining the venerable Boulevard Mall. Sansone Companies, the local real estate firm that purchased the Boulevard, has renovation plans that include fresh landscaping and paint, repairs to the 46-year-old building and even a permanent farmer’s market … but there are no movie theaters planned, at least not yet. Devon Sansone, the company’s leasing and construction manager, says the idea of a theater complex is being “actively pursued.”
Maybe the future of theaters in Downtown Las Vegas is brighter than it seems. Like any frequent moviegoer, we like a good coming attraction. But as long as the Eclipse lot on 3rd and Gass remains vacant and the Boulevard and Neonopolis remain theater-less, we’ll keep our popcorn un-popped.