September 2015

The Park Plaza Cinema Experience: Hilton Head Island’s Über Cool Theater

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Like a good book and a hammock on a breezy, billowy-cloud day, going to the movies is a modern-day escape where ordinary concerns are forgotten for a bit; where the darkness pushes you back in your seat, expecting you to savor the saltiness of the popcorn, the sweetness of the Milk Duds, and the cool sip of a soda.

The movie may be action-packed with car chases, machine gun fire, raging robots, or roaring dinosaurs; it may be filled with striking scenery or sophisticated cities; there may be cloaked villains or handsome heroes; it may bring you to tears or to the edge of your seat. What you are guaranteed at Park Plaza Cinema, says Lucie Mann, “is an experience.”

Lucie and Larry Mann, owners since 2010 of the movie theater on the south end of Hilton Head Island, have created an über theater, where the landscape is ever-unfolding, and where the experience is most certainly over-and-above (think über) that of most movie-going experiences anywhere. This creative pair has translated their design/architectural/builder/social sensibilities to their home away from home. “We love to entertain, and we wanted to create a place where people could come together and hang out before and after the movie—and where we wanted to hang out,” Lucie said.

The Manns are making an impressive mark as independent theater owners, keeping on-trend and offering a movie-going experience that exceeds expectations. As members of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), they attend annual conventions and listen carefully to what other owners and the industry fraternity are saying about changes and directions at the movies. Converting Park Plaza Cinema from conventional film to digital projection was an important step in keeping up with the industry and keeping their doors open. Now, seating has become the focus, Lucie said.

The new, reclining, comfy-foot-rest, cup-holder-included, seating found in a growing number of theaters is the next project for the Manns, and they are asking customers to vote on their favorite. Visit the lobby and have a seat in each of the two chair options, cast a vote, and possibly win one of the weekly prizes being given away during voting. The conversion to the new seating will happen gradually, beginning this fall.

If you haven’t been (you’re really missing out), allow me to share some of the unique features of Park Plaza Cinema. In the spirit of entertaining, the cinema’s lounge offers a carefully selected wine and beer list, and noshing options from flatbread pizza and cheeseburgers to organic veggie burgers, Greek tapas, ice cream from Hilton Head Ice Cream, and much more. Decorated in shades of red and orange with black accents, the effect is a whimsical, clubby space with cushy banquette and table seating, flanked by a cozy bar at one end and an ice cream counter at the other—a first-rate place to hang out before or after the movie. Across the lobby, the traditional concession offers freshly popped popcorn, candy, sodas, teas, energy drinks, Siberian Chill slushies, and again, much more.

Cinematically, Park Plaza is a place not only to see the latest movies, but to be a part of special independent film events, charitable events where parties and screenings are paired with special causes, and fun local events. The Manns are looking forward to early 2016 when they will host screenings of the winning films from the 2016 Beaufort Film Festival. “We have wanted to be involved in this festival for a long time,” Lucie said. “Screening the winners seemed like a great way to bring people out for a very special movie event and introduce people who may not already be fans to Park Plaza Cinema.”

Growth is a big part of the business plan here. The super savvy Manns have plans for expansion on their already burgeoning partnership. They are excited to invite you to be on the lookout in the coming year for their vegan restaurant now in the works, with plans to expand their patio area into a full-service eatery. Gathering input from a successful vegan restauranteur out of New York, the Manns believe the island is ready, and more than willing, to welcome this culinary viewpoint.

Finally, be on the lookout for Annabelle and Antoinette, the Mann’s beloved canines and movie mascots, who are usually keeping an eye on the lobby, or who are snuggled into their cozy bed awaiting pats and pets from patrons. 

Park Plaza Cinema is located at 33 Office Park Road, Suite 201, Hilton Head Island. For more information, movie times and events, or to inquire about scheduling a special event, please visit mannsparkplazacinema.com or call (843) 715-0479.

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