The Picture Show has upped its film game.

No longer is the cinema your go-to for cheap, second-run movies. As of the summer release of “Toy Story 4,” the longtime discount theater in Citadel Crossing is now a first-run movie destination, in the same vein as the Cinemarks and AMCs.

That means all new movies, all the time. That also means Colorado Springs no longer has a discount theater. You’ll have to head to Denver, where Elvis Cinemas offers second-run movies for $3 to $4.

Tickets to Picture Show films previously cost $1.75, and $1 on Tuesdays. Now you’ll pluck $4.50 from your wallet for matinees. After 6 p.m., adults pay $7, but kids ages 3 to 13 and seniors 60 and older still pay $4.50. The price rises to $7.25 for adults after 6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Tuesdays are $4 for everybody.

In comparison, Cinemark Carefree Circle and IMAX will charge $7.50 for a matinee and $11.75 for an evening showing of this weekend’s much-anticipated release of the horror film “It Chapter Two.”

“We want to be the best pricing for our customer base,” said Jeff Stedman, owner of Picture Show Entertainment, which operates the venue and 11 other first- and second-run theaters across the country. “People will take the extra time to drive over.”

More than $1 million was spent in renovations at the Citadel Crossing location. Picture Show’s eight screens there are now 30% to 60% larger, with enhanced audio presentation, and moviegoers now watch films from 90 to 120 new luxury recliners. An extended concessions menu features Angus burgers, beef hot dogs, french fries, pizza, chicken bites and funnel cake fries, while soda machines offer unlimited drink options.

Picture Show opened in 2003, in the home of the former Cinema Latino and Super Saver Cinemas, along Academy Boulevard south of Galley Road. Discount theaters were a successful model at the time, Stedman said, though today they’re much less sustainable.

It’s all due to changes in the industry, which now is trying to lure consumers from their homes with the additions of luxury recliners and beer and wine offerings. Picture Show doesn’t serve the latter, but Stedman said it might in the future. Another game-changer is the public’s increasingly rabid attendance at event-type films, such as the April release of “Avengers: Endgame.” People don’t want to wait. They want to see a movie on opening weekend.

Major releases such as “Avengers” are doing more than $300 million in annual sales, Stedman said. In the past, the year’s major films accounted for about 35 percent of the domestic box office; this year it will be closer to 50 percent.

“It was the craziest experience we’ve had,” said Stedman about the “Avengers: Endgame” opening weekend. “We were running shows almost 24 hours a day to accommodate. Those films get played out a little bit. While people come see it in second-run, they don’t come in the amount of frequency as they used to.”

Citadel Crossing, which opened in 1988, has gone through several changes over the years. Once home to Walmart and Best Buy, it’s now anchored by a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse store that opened in 2011. Office Depot, PetSmart, Olive Garden, Chipotle and Black Bear Diner are among the center’s other retailers.

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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