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Theater opens with box office boon

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Area residents packed into the new Rocklin theater, Blue Oaks Cinema 16, at the corner of Lonetree and Blue Oaks boulevards for its opening weekend. Fifteen family members from Rocklin’s Leger family filled a full row Sunday after the group decided to dress up for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1.” “We wanted to go to the new theater to see Harry Potter,” Donald Leger said, portraying Professor Hagrid from the popular film series. Leger was visiting from Texas and said movies are cheaper out there, but the crystal-clear digital images at Blue Oaks 16 were worth the difference. “You didn’t see the little squiggly film things,” Leger said. “We sat in the back and we didn’t hear the projector.” The all-digital $10 million multi-plex opened with a 12:05 a.m. Friday morning showing of Harry Potter with 700 in attendance, many in costume, according to SR Entertainment President Dan Tocchini. “If we would have been open two weeks earlier, when they were buying tickets in advance, it would have been much higher,” Tocchini said. “But we’re still happy with what we got.” Charlie and Barb Fass from Roseville were one of the first senior citizens in line Friday evening. Charlie joked that the box office made a big first impression. “The box office was an open counter like a fast food counter,” Charlie Fass said. “It was nice not having them behind the bullet-proof glass. The other theaters, it looks like you are talking to prisoners.” Charlie Fass said it was nice not having to stand in the rain to buy tickets either. They got two tickets to “The Next Three Days” starring Russell Crowe. “Everything was crystal clear. This was definitely HD quality,” Charlie Fass said. “In the conventional theater you can see the stream of light coming from the projection booth. You look up there and it’s a quiet computer and I had no idea how they did what they did.” Blue Oaks is the first in the country to offer Ultra Digital Cinema with a ceiling to floor screen and 29 speakers embedded in the ceiling, walls and behind the screen. All of the movies are played from a central server with no fill stock to mess with. Tocchini said the theater manager can adjust the movie projection using an iPhone application. Charlie Fass said the movie title above the door even had a countdown to the start of the show so he could know how much time he could take for a pit stop. Barb Fass said it was a bit pricey for her taste. She bought a large bag of popcorn and two drinks for $15.75 and $7.50 for the senior discount. However, she said the quality was noticeable. “We really like it,” Barb Fass said. “On their first day, the employees were still learning things, but they were very cordial.” Saturday, the newly hired work force served 4,000 moviegoers. Then on Sunday morning the discounted first show of the day – 10 a.m. – drew 900, according to Tocchini. “I like the price,” Roseville resident Jake Hill said. “For five people it was real cheap.” Rocklin residents Robert and Shirely Counts hadn’t been to a show in nearly three years, but saw the coverage in The Placer Herald and decided to venture out to Blue Oaks Cinema 16. “We saw “Morning Glory” and I think it is a beautiful theater,” Shirley Counts said, “We’ll be back.” Barb Fass said the layout of the theater helps prevent lines backing up at the box office or the snack bar. “It was so nice and convenient,” Barb Fass said. “The only reason we would go to the old theaters in Roseville is if they had a movie that Blue Oaks didn’t have. Why travel the distance when we have this so close to home? We could go every week.” Tocchini, who heads the family business from the Bay Area, is hoping Barb Fass will do just that. After the first of the year, Blue Oaks Cinema 16 will offer loyalty cards that reward repeat customers with free concessions and movies based on a point system. “Nationally, business is down this year than last,” Tocchini said. “This theater is so well received. It is meeting our expectations.”