OLIVE BRANCH, MS (abc24.com) - It's a tale of two theaters, both are being built in Olive Branch, Mississippi. The drama unfolding over the planned projects is enough to rival those seen on the big screen.
In October, a small company named Cinema Group announced it was opening a 16-screen theater off Goodman Road. A few weeks later, Malco Theaters announced it too was opening a 12-screen theater, also off Goodman Road.
Locals say they'll believe it when they see it.
"All I can say is five or six years ago, we had two movie theaters that wanted to build in town. Nothing happened. Now again, we have two different sets of owners that want to build theaters here in town," says Mayor Sam Rikard.
It's the same city and same story, starring the same owners as before: Cinema Group and Malco Theaters.
"Malco announced eight years ago it was going to build a small theater eight or ten screens near Lowes and nothing happened," Rikard says.
Then Cinema Group bought land off Goodman Road, "…and started construction of the project. As I understand it the Malco owners bought him out and put their sign up on Goodman Road: 'Theater Coming Soon,'" Rikard remembers.
Five years later, there's still no theater, and the mayor says "both companies are saying they're going to build a theater in Olive Branch." For Rikard, the recent announcements are a repeat of past promises.
"Time will tell whether we end up with two theaters or one or maybe none again."
Both projects are planned for Goodman Road, only a mile or so apart.
Southaven already has a Malco Theater. The two new ones would make three theaters off Goodman Road. As far as whether Olive Branch can support two, Rikard says let the market decide.
"We don't tell banks or car washes or grocery stores how many you can have in town."
"Oh I definitely think we can," says Kimberly Remak. "We're just a fast growing city here and I'm looking forward to having the Malco and any other movie theater they want to put in around here."
"I think three would be an awful lot," says Marwan Qazzaz. "But maybe a second one will do."
Cinema Group plans to open in late 2013; Malco's opening is planned for mid-2013.
There maybe a sequel to the drama between the two companies. Cinema Group also plans to build a theater in Southaven just down the road from the current Malco location.