New Carmike theater brings IMAX to Brevard

MELBOURNE, Fla. – An IMAX theater will soon open in Brevard County.

Several contractors and workers spent Monday testing sound, popping popcorn, and installing fluorescent blue rope lights at Carmike West Melbourne 12 at Hammock Landing. Employees dressed in kelly green T-shirts smiled and said, "Welcome to the movies."

A marketing event took place Monday night, followed by a VIP event Tuesday before Carmike's grand opening on Wednesday. "Guardians of the Galaxy" in 3-D will be the movie du jour.

Carmike West Melbourne 12, owned by Carmike Cinemas, has 11 movie screens and one IMAX theater, which seats 460 people with a screen that's 65 feet wide and 3 1/2 stories tall, said general manager Clayton Snell. The arm rests are movable, the leather seats are cushion-y and recline, and "they've got a new theater smell, too," he said.

The other auditoriums boast the same style of seats, just without the leather.

Moviegoers who pay extra for IMAX: when the sound system is at its max — 11,000 watts of power -- the theater shakes. "When the bass hits and the lightning strikes in the movies," Snell said, "you're going to feel it."

Carmike's opening is good news for Shelley Lopez, of Palm Bay, a mom of six boys ages 5 to 22.

"We usually go to the IMAX on Merritt Island (Cobb Theatres Merritt Square 16) and now we don't have to drive all the way out there," she said. "It's all about the sound quality and the atmosphere and the whole experience. Cinemaworld just doesn't have that, so I'm hoping, I'm really hoping that this one is, if not better, then it's the same (as Merritt Island)."

Shelley and her husband, Christian Lopez, enjoy the IMAX experience for different reasons: "I like sound, he likes picture," she said, adding their family often travels almost an hour whenever there's a new IMAX movie at Merritt Square 16.

"We know it can be expensive to see a movie," Snell said, "so we want the service to be impeccable."

There's no box office window -- guests purchase all concessions and tickets in the air-conditioned lobby. Seventeen registers line one side with employees at the ready. This is where moviegoers get an empty cup and an empty bag for popcorn. (Popcorn buckets are available, too. See box.) On the other side of the lobby are Freestyle Coca-Cola machines and a popcorn factory with self-serve butter pump.

"We're going to be poppin' fresh popcorn almost on demand," Snell said.

Other goodies at Carmike? UNOs pizza, White Castle and mozzarella sticks, to name a few.

For those who like to save, Carmike's rewards moviegoers on a points system. For every $1 that's spent, points are earned and eventually redeemable for popcorn and movies.

One ladies restroom has a parlor furnished with bright red mini couches, mirrors and high bar stools. The sinks and paper towels are touch-free.

Carmike West Melbourne 12's sister location is Carmike Avenue 16 in Viera. Carmike Cinemas bought the theater, then known as The Rave, more than 2 years ago.

The land next to Carmike West Melbourne is the future site of a campus for Promise in Brevard, a nonprofit that helps young adults with special needs.