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Muvico expanding its horizons

Times Staff Writer
Published October 6, 2003

Muvico Theaters, whose flashy themed movie houses have become the Cadillac of the business, is kicking it up a notch.

Hamid Hashemi, the Iranian immigrant who founded Muvico, sought to replicate some of the glitz of the grand old movie palaces with his luxury theaters that offer child care, valet parking and, in some cases, restaurants and full liquor bars in the balcony. The Fort Lauderdale chain operates four theaters in the Tampa Bay area, including the landmark entertainment centers at Centro Ybor and BayWalk.

Now his company plans to build the first Muvico Empire.

It's scheduled to open in 2005 as part of a 158-acre open-air shopping mall and hotel to be developed in Miami-Dade County by the Rouse Company.

The Empire Ancient World in Kendall will be twice as large as a regular Muvico megaplex. It will be decked out like something from ancient Rome, with stone columns out front and mythological statues inside.

In addition to a 20-screen theater, the Empire will house a bowling alley, a pool and darts parlor, a game arcade along the lines of Gameworks, games of skill and an upscale restaurant. "We think we can build four or five of them along the East Coast, mostly at existing malls" that don't have megaplex cinemas, said Jim Lee, Muvico marketing director.

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