Dripping Springs-area residents no longer have to drive into Austin to get their film fix.
Sky Cinema, a new 14-screen movie theater, officially opened its doors for a “soft-opening” last week. The theater is the anchor for Belterra Village, a 93-acre mixed-use development that holds roughly 200,000 square-feet of retail space.
Bill Banowsky, creator of Sky Cinema and the Violet Crown Cinema in Austin, said he had envisioned bringing a cinema to the Dripping Springs area for several years. It offered him a way to test a new suburban cinema concept, where it can anchor a retail pad.
Banowsky said the cinema also fits a “robust and growing” market in the Dripping Springs area, which includes Wimberley, Henly and Johnson City.
“People in this market have wanted a movie theater and that’s clear,” Banowsky said.
Banowsky said the cinema is community-focused that “embraces and is guided by the area’s family-friendly, fun, local culture,” according to a press release.
The cinema will feature 14 auditoriums with stadium seating and reclining seats. Banowsky said the idea was to change the scale of the cinema to offer a more unique experience for movie-goers.
Ten of the 14 auditoriums have roughly 75 seats, Banowsky said.
However, he said film streaming services such as Netflix has not affected “people like us.” The focus is to give movie-goers an experience they won’t be able to find on their couch, Banowsky said.
“Most cinemas are built large and they’re busy on the weekends, but terribly underutilized during the week,” Banowsky said. “We approach it with an idea that we should have 50 or 60 seat auditoriums, rather than 200 seats, because the efficiency is higher.”
He added the cinema also aims to work with local breweries and businesses in the area. According to a press release, the cinema will practice a “keep it close” culture by locally sourcing ingredients for its menu.
The economic benefit from the amount of traffic to the cinema could also be a boost for area businesses. Estimated annual attendance at Sky Cinema could range from 350,000 to 400,000 tickets sold per year, Banowsky said.
“That’s a lot of people getting into their car and having a night out and they would out and about in this area,” Banowsky said.
Sherrie Parks, Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the cinema fulfills a need for more “family-friendly entertainment.”
“They brought that in a big way,” Parks said. “They gave us a facility that answers that need, plus more.”
Working with local businesses is a huge part of the synergy between the cinema and the area, Parks said.
Dripping Springs’ new cinema will also provide a balance to the city’s booming tourism industry. While Dripping Springs is able to draw outside traffic with its designation as the Wedding Capital of Texas, Parks said the city needs “something for residents to do with our kids.”
“I’m hoping that other business investors will see that we have a large number of families out here and they need something to do,” Parks said. “I’m hoping our movie theater is our first step.”