Luxury movie theater owner looks at Mill Creek

MILL CREEK — A Seattle entrepreneur is looking to bring a little luxury to Mill Creek.

Big Picture, a high-end movie theater company, is looking to expand after 15 years in Seattle’s Belltown. Co-founder Mark Stern said the Mill Creek area is being considered for a new location.

Big Picture theaters serve liquor. The threaters feature recliners, drink delivery and popcorn in champagne buckets instead of greasy bags.

Stern said he encourages cocktails during movies.

“Everything we do has to be more luxurious than the normal experience,” Stern said. “It’s all about offering a first-class experience.”

Big Picture also offers its space for parties, VIP events and corporate meetings. Stern said the theater would drive traffic to Mill Creek with a client list that includes companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon.

“We say a little party never killed anybody,” he said. “It’s almost like a bit of Vegas.”

Big Picture is ready to start construction as soon as it finds the right space.

“We need a developer who’s creative and understands retail,” Stern said.

Mill Creek Community Development Director Tom Rogers said the city is working to pair the right developer with the project.

The Mill Creek Town Center’s planners originally envisioned including a theater on-site. Because it lacks adequate parking for a multiplex movie house, Rogers said, Big Picture’s smaller theater might offer a solution. Stern is looking for 5,000 to 12,000 square feet for a one- or possibly two-screen theater.

“It meets the vision of the Town Center and its citizens,” Rogers said.

Stern has his sights set on building in Mill Creek or Bothell. He also is in negotiations to open another theater in Bellevue.

Stern said Big Picture Seattle was the first theater to serve liquor on the West Coast. The company closed its Redmond location in April. Now, with new investors, he expects to expand with two new theaters in Washington and another in California.

“People want luxurious experiences,” he said. “It’s all about making you feel special. Most movie theaters don’t do that.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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