A Cinergy Entertainment Group marquee will replace the ShowBiz Cinemas sign after the two groups recently reached a mutual agreement. Cinergy Entertainment, which owns the building, opened Driftwood Cinema at the 2600 U.S. 281 location about 17 years ago before leasing the venue to ShowBiz Cinemas in 2008. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The original owner of the Marble Falls multiscreen movie theater is returning for the sequel.
Cinergy Entertainment Group Inc. is taking over the ShowBIz Cinemas location at 2600 U.S. 281, both groups recently announced.
Jeff Benson, founder and chief executive officer of Cinergy Entertainment Group, and Rob Warnes, chief operating officer of ShowBiz Cinemas, said the two groups reached an agreement earlier in the week that paves the way for Cinergy to be the movie entertainment center in Marble Falls.
Benson opened the Marble Falls theater in 2003 as Driftwood Cinema. In 2008, he leased the building to ShowBiz Cinemas, which had operated it until it was closed recently due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re excited to have it back,” Benson said. “From Blanco to Spicewood to Llano and Lampasas, they all come 30 or 40 miles. There’s only one (movie house) in that part of the Hill Country.”
As part of the agreement, ShowBiz Cinemas is leaving much of the equipment in place so, when the theater can reopen, Cinergy Entertainment won’t miss a beat.
“It was a nice way to finish it out,” ShowBiz’s Warnes added.
Benson said he plans to make improvements, including expanding the food and beverage offerings and revamping the screening rooms with reclining chairs as well as tables so people can dine as they watch movies.
“We’ll bring the food to your seat,” Benson said. “It’s a much better experience. We’re going to make it a state-of-the-art experience.”
Cinergy operates facilities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Copperas Cove. Offering movies is only one part of the Cinergy experience. Some locations have axe-throwing, escape rooms, and bowling.
As for when the Marble Falls theater will reopen, that depends on the state government’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
If restrictions are eased but not lifted, Warnes and Benson are bracing for at least another month before the theater can reopen. And, even then, the business might be required to follow social-distancing protocols.
Another hiccup for all theaters comes from Hollywood. Filmmakers and distributors have indicated they will push back the release dates for some summer blockbusters due to delays caused by the pandemic.
Some theaters are looking at other options, including family films and classics.
Benson noted his kids would enjoy seeing the original “Jurassic Park” (1993) and the blockbuster hit “Top Gun” (1986), even though they’ve watched them on smaller screens many times.
“We look forward to reopening as quickly as we can,” Benson said. “People will want to be out of the house, even if they’re watching the original ‘Top Gun.’”