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Warehouse Cinemas makes its debut at the Rotunda in Hampden

Warehouse Cinemas offers a combined restaurant and cinema experience
Posted at 8:14 AM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-04 08:20:11-04

BALTIMORE — A neighborhood movie theater that closed during the pandemic is about to make a big comeback. In true Hollywood fashion it makes its return with a complete makeover.

The old CineBistro movie theater at The Rotunda in Hampden has been reborn as Warehouse Cinemas. Besides a new name, it has new owners, a new look, and several new features to entice people out of their living rooms and into the new theater.

Warehouse Cinemas is a homegrown Maryland-based chain out of Frederick. Its operators want to offer experiences that moviegoers can't get anywhere else, whether at home or another theater.

Some of the other things warehouse cinemas will offer include a mix of blockbusters and indie films, $7 movies all day for all movies on Tuesdays, and a movie version of a book club called Film League in which once a month people can gather to watch a film and talk about movies.

Thanks to big Hollywood blockbusters, the box office for cinemas continues to rebound after moviegoing took a hit during the pandemic. The London research firm Gower Street Analytics projects a worldwide box office of $32 billion in 2023.

While the box office is up 23% from 2022, it’s still down by 20% before the pandemic. Warehouse Cinemas President and CEO Rich Daughtridge believes if you build a movie theater, the audience will come.

“It’s been a tough couple of years for the movie theater industry. When we had the opportunity to take over this space, it’s been about a year in the making with construction, but it’s time because I think movies are back. People are looking to get out of the house for out-of-home entertainment,” Daughtridge said.

However, Daughtridge says they're also providing more than a basic theater.

“We replaced all the seating. So, there were nice rockers seats that were here before, we replaced them with leather recliners with a foot rest, that include a seat warmer. We also fine-tuned the picture and sound if you will, we have 4K projectors,” Daughtridge said.

Besides experiencing the sights and sounds of watching a film in one of seven new state-of-the-art theaters, the operators set out to tempt moviegoers by stimulating all five of their senses including smell and taste.

“We have a combined restaurant space and a cinema space. You can come and hang out in the restaurant and get a cocktail, beer, wine on the wall, get a great corn dog or grilled cheese, and go to the movie, but you don’t have to watch a movie necessarily,” Daughtridge said.

Moviegoers are invited to quench their thirst and check out 40 self-serve taps which provide a variety of 32 beers, four selections of wine and four types of cocktails.

“You essentially prepay a dollar amount, and then you pay per ounce on the beer wall. It activates a tap on the beer wall you pour as many ounces as you would like. You try that, you go down the wall, and try as many and then when you’re satisfied with the one you like, you basically pour the full beer, or cocktail or wine, and take it in the auditorium with you,” Daughtridge said.

Meanwhile, neighborhood moviegoers have been anxiously waiting for this theater to reopen for more than two years.

“We didn’t want to open until it was ready, and what we sort of saw as a vision for the space. When I walked in this morning, and actually seeing the floors painted and seeing some of the signs go up, it really has come together. So, I think it will be worth the wait,” Daughtridge said.