Carmike Cinemas latest owner of Voorhees theater

Originally from the Courier Post

Written with Joe Cooney

VOORHEES — The original Ritz Center multiplex in Voorhees is getting another makeover.

As of 6 p.m. today — after some sprucing up, new signage and carpets — the theater on Haddonfield-Berlin Road will be known as Carmike Cinemas.

A series of acquisitions over the past few months spurred the latest name change. As part of a $220 million deal in May, Cinemark acquired 32 Rave Cinema locations — including the Voorhees theater — in 12 states.

But the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in, saying Cinemark couldn’t operate a theater in Voorhees when it already owned one in Somerdale.

“Cinemark’s proposed acquisition of Rave Cinemas would likely reduce competition among theaters showing first-run, commercial movies, causing moviegoers to pay higher ticket prices,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

So the department ordered Cinemark to sell the Voorhees site within 90 days.

Carmike Cinemas, a Georgia-based theater operator, purchased the theater from Cinemark last month.

Carmike operates or has an interest in more than 250 theaters in 35 states, making it the fourth-largest theater company in the country. Cinemark, based in Plano, Texas, is the third-largest, with 298 movie houses in 40 states.

Calls to Carmike were not returned Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, Cherry Hill residents Nathan and Beverly Getzenberg were at the Voorhees theater to catch a showing of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” The couple have been regulars at the movie house “for many, many years.”

“We prefer this theater to the Loews, because of the stadium seating,” said Beverly, who noted she and her husband were disappointed when Ritz became Rave because there were fewer foreign films offered.

“We missed the European movies,” Nathan noted.

Lou DiCrescenzo has been working at the Voorhees theater as a projectionist since it opened in 1996.

The film preservationist and collector of movie artifacts said he’s thrilled about Carmike taking the lead role.

“Everybody’s really excited, and we’re looking forward (to tonight).

“Carmike wants to be known as your hometown cinema,” he explained. “They really mingle with people and they want to know your name.”

The Voorhees theater has always been known for running independent and foreign films, and DiCrescenzo said that shouldn’t change.

“We want to keep everything the same and run stuff for all age groups. We still have some 35mm equipment, so we can have specials showings.

“I think we’re the only theater around that can show everything.”

Derek Scott, an assistant manager at the Voorhees location through four management changes, said the theater is currently showing four art films, “and I believe Carmike will continue to show those types of films.”

DiCrescenzo said he’s confident Carmike will score rave reviews from theatergoers.

“I really think they’re going to do whatever they can to keep things the same, but also add more things to make it a better experience.

“They realize that it’s all about the customer having fun.”

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