Enzian Theater delays expansion

Image copyright Enzian Theater

Image copyright Enzian Theater

From The Orlando Weekly, November 2, 2016

The Enzian Theater plans to submit its final proposal for expansion to the Maitland Planning and Zoning Commission early next year, not this year as previously reported by the Orlando Weekly. This mean the construction, if approved, would be finished for the 2019 Florida Film Festival, not the 2018 event, as first planned.

“We were hoping to maintain a timeline that had the project completed by Florida Film Festival 2018, but right now it looks like even the quickest possible timeframe would put us a couple months past that for completion,” says Enzian Executive Vice President Elizabeth Mukherjee. “The three-to-six-month timeframe for the city process once we go back to Planning and Zoning, and three-to-six-month timeframe for permitting, still is my best guess, but I think the earliest we’d be back with Planning and Zoning would be February 2017. [That] pushes our prior timeframes back to a potential project completion date of late summer [or] early fall of 2018. The summer held slower progress than we’d expected. We continued to spend the summer working on coming up with the best possible expansion plan and site map to offer the community that we hope will make our patrons, the city and our neighbors happy.”

The Enzian Forever project would expand the Maitland art cinema from one to three screens while also adding a new lobby, restrooms and staff offices. The initial proposal was publicly presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission in January and drew both praise from Enzian patrons and criticism from neighborhood residents, who expressed their concern over the lack of parking and other issues related to increased attendance.

regal-cinemas-winter-parkIn related news, Mukherjee says the Enzian does not expect the 2017 and 2018 Florida Film Festivals to be greatly impacted by the shrinking capacity of Regal Cinemas Stadium 20 at Winter Park Village, which I reported in September. The Regal renovations will reduce the seating capacity of all theaters by about 60 percent by installing reclining, sofa-style seats with footrests.

“We are not expecting to see any issues arise from the shrinking theaters,” she says. “We will have smaller auditoriums for our Florida Film Festival screenings over there, but I’ve carefully reviewed the attendance data from past festivals, and the majority of the time our audience would still fit into the new smaller seat-count theaters. They will just reach capacity more often. This does mean that more screenings will reach stand-by and sell out, but we show most of our programs twice, so patrons will get two opportunities to get in to most films. It will be an incentive for festival-goers to get their tickets early or purchase a pass if they want the flexibility to choose at the last minute. … And I’m sure everyone will be happy with the upgraded seating Regal is installing!”

By sticking with three screens (one at Enzian and two at Regal) for the next two festivals, the event’s total seating capacity would drop from 989 to 538.

“We’ve considered adding a third screen [at Regal] for shows that we expect to have an exceptionally strong draw, but for now we are planning on still just using two screens at Regal,” Mukherjee says.

The only major change the Enzian is considering is moving the opening-night film from Regal to the Enzian.

“[The Regal renovation] makes our Enzian auditorium the largest of the three available screens,” Mukherjee says. “In the past, we’ve had to debate whether we want to show a film at ‘home’ (Enzian) or in the largest auditorium. Now there’s no trade-off. [But for now] we haven’t made any decisions on where the opening-night film will screen.”

© 2016 Orlando Weekly / MeierMovies, LLC