Regal Cinema, Eagan, Minnesota

Minnesota cinema multiplex remodelled, with axe-hurling thrown in

Eagan movie theater-goers soon may be able to hurl hatchets before or after watching a flick.

Regal Cinemas 16 in Eagan will be sold and undergo a remodel that includes adding recliner seats, a bar and an ax-throwing venue, according to planning documents submitted to the city.

The 16-screen theater, off Cliff Road west of Interstate 35E, closed last week after a 20-year run. Michigan-based Northwoods Entertainment, doing business as Emagine Entertainment, plans to buy it from Regal and start a renovation in early May, with a conversion complete by late fall, the planning documents said.

Regal Cinema 16 in Eagan closed last week after 20 years in business. (Courtesy of the City of Eagan)
The proposal, which the city’s planning commission will review Tuesday night, also includes new development in the theater’s expansive parking lot. Two new retail buildings with drive-thru windows would total 25,200 square feet. A 4,300-square-foot restaurant would make up the third building.

Ax throwing popular in Canada

Ax-throwing locales have sprung up in Minnesota the past few years, with places like Big Thrill Factory in Oakdale and FlannelJax’s in Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul giving guests the opportunity to foster their inner Paul Bunyan. The activity, which involves throwing a lightweight ax at a target, is popular in Canada.

Emagine opened up 16 lanes for ax-throwing at its Monticello theater last month, following a remodel.

Emagine Entertainment wants to remodel the former Eagan Regal Cinema 16 and turn one of the auditoriums in a 12-lane ax-throwing venue. (Courtesy of city of Eagan)

Emagine bought the theater and seven other Muller Theatres in 2016 and have been remodeling them since. Others include the massive 21-screen theater in Lakeville and a theater in White Bear Township.

In Eagan, one of the theater’s 16 auditoriums would turn into a 12-lane ax-throwing venue. Another one would be remodeled into a 26-seat “premier preview” auditorium.

Eagan planner Pamela Dudziak said Monday that ax-throwing would need city council approval because it would be classified as a conditional use.

More uses for parking lot

Adding recliner seating to the other 14 auditoriums could reduce the number of seats by 50 to 60 percent, according to a memo Dudziak prepared for the planning commission meeting.

“With the reduced theater seating, the applicant proposes to convert portions of the existing parking to new retail commercial uses,” the memo read.

The parking lot would be subdivided into four lots to accommodate the three new buildings.

“The proposal puts a largely unused expanse of parking lot into use with infill development of retail/service uses consistent with uses that currently exist in the area,” the memo read.

Emagine adds to Minnesota presence

Emagine is a relatively small player in the theater business. Besides its eight theaters already operating in Minnesota, Emagine has 10 theaters in Michigan and one each in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Source: Pioneer Press

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