Sit back and relax

CEC adds hundreds of reclining seats to its Fort 8 Theatre

-Messenger photos by Chad Thompson
Gary Jackson, manager of CEC — Fort 8 Theatre, lets the popcorn fly as he sits in one of the new reclining seats recently installed in auditorium No. 1.

There’s a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘sit back and relax’ at Fort 8 Theatre, 1417 Central Ave.

All eight auditoriums at the Cinema Entertainment Corporation theatre are being remodeled with brand new Palliser leather reclining seats — 478 of them.

Auditoriums No. 1 and No. 2 had its seats installed on March 7.

The rest of the auditoriums will be finished in the coming weeks, according to Jay Roettger, field coordinator for CEC.

Roettger, who has been involved in remodeling 17 different theaters, said it takes between seven and 10 days to redo an auditorium.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Ninety-four new reclining seats have been installed inside auditorium No. 1 at CEC — Fort 8 Theatre.

The theater will sacrifice some of its space for the added comfort.

“You lose about 50 percent of your seating by adding the recliners, but it’s a much better environment,” Roettger said.

Before the seats are installed, concrete had to be poured and the risers had to be reconfigured.

New seats aren’t the only changes inside the theater.

According to Roettger, each auditorium will also have new tile, carpet, LED aisle lighting, and Soundfold fabric-wrapped acoustical panels.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Jay Roettger, field coordinator for Cinema Entertainment Corporation, looks over some materials as his crew prepared to install new reclining seats at CEC — Fort 8 Theatre.

Five auditoriums will have new screens, he said.

Gary Jackson, manager of the Fort 8 Theatre, said the reason for the improvements is simple.

“It’s all about comfort for the guests,” Jackson said. “Everyone wants to be comfortable when they watch a movie.”

He added, “People have been asking me for a long time when we were getting these.”

The seats move forward and backward. They can be controlled by the person who sits in them.

“If you’re really tired it will go all the way back for you,” Jackson said. “In Japan they have beds in their theaters — we aren’t going that far.”

All the middle seats in each row are love seats, Jackson said.

“The arm in the middle lifts up if you want to be closer to your loved one,” he said.

Guests will be able to select the seat they want online, Jackson said.

“People will be able to go online to purchase which seat number they want,” Jackson said. “And that particular seat is reserved for you. We will also have a kiosk up front where you can buy your ticket in case the line is long.”

Jackson was complimentary of the businesses surrounding the theater for their patience during the remodel.

“Throughout the work, the (Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center) REC and Hardee’s, we have used some of their space, parking wise throughout the process and we appreciate it,” Jackson said. “We have good neighbors here.”

Jackson has been an employee of CEC for almost 20 years.

“I started in Fort Dodge about 19 years ago, less than a year after CEC bought it,” Jackson said. “It was a four plex when CEC bought it and they made it eight right away.”

He said CEC is in the process of upgrading all of its theaters.

CEC owns 20 theaters throughout Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Most recently, the company upgraded the Mall Cinema 7 Theatre in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and the Cinema West Theatre in Mason City.

“This company is awesome,” Jackson said. “I’ve been doing this 40 some years and it’s the best company I’ve worked for. They really try to keep up with the times and make the guests comfortable.”