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By C. Jayden Smith

The Outlets at San Clemente has announced that the long-awaited MetroLux Theatres is set to open to the public this Thursday, Feb. 24, with a formal grand opening to be set sometime in the spring. 

The soon-to-be “flagship location” of the Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, according to the company, holds 50,000 square feet and 10 auditoriums with 4K digital laser projections and large heated recliners, including an IMAX auditorium featuring a 60-foot wall-to-wall screen. 

General Manager Tony Brunetti said the IMAX auditorium holds 221 seats, while the others, which are more “intimate” spaces, hold as little as 47, amounting to a total capacity of just under 900. 

Other amenities include 23 “D-BOX” seats, all within Auditorium 8, that synchronize the action on the screen with individual motion control in the seats, kiosks for contactless ticketing at the main lobby, and a second floor with additional kiosks and concessions. 

During the eventual grand opening, guests will experience the 30-foot, on-site bar and restaurant, Scripted Bar & Kitchen, and full food and beverage offerings. 

“Serving as a brand-new dining destination with a full-service bar and patio and providing an in-theatre dining experience, the restaurant will bring an elevated menu of eclectic dishes,” a press release about the announcement read. 

Steven L. Craig, the founder and managing partner of the Outlets’ ownership, Craig Realty Group, called the theater the “future of movie watching” in the release.

“We’ve brought together the absolute best in technology, coupled with the highest level of hospitality to create a truly exceptional movie-going experience,” Craig said. “Our customers have been eager for this addition to the Center and we are thrilled to invite our surrounding communities to this ultimate entertainment destination.” 

MetroLux’s IMAX auditorium, pictured here ahead of the theater’s official opening on Thursday, Feb. 24, holds 221 seats. Photo: C. Jayden Smith

MetroLux Theatres owner David Corwin said his company saw in San Clemente a good opportunity for new development, and by working with the Outlets, they were also assured a great location, visibility, parking, and a quality mix of other tenants.

They were also able to fill a need for the Outlets, which opened with the goal of having a theater in mind, according to Corwin. 

“Certainly, the last couple of years during the pandemic have slowed things down and led us to this point, but all things considered, (it) seems like a good time to be getting open,” he said of the process.

Brunetti said that the construction process has been fun, despite hitting the typical bumps in the road, such as moving around certain schedules due to workers being sick with COVID-19.

Additionally, in his interactions with visitors to the Outlets and other people around the community, he has received support, questions, and interest regarding the theater’s opening date.

MetroLux collaborated with SMS Architects of Irvine to build the theater, hoping to align the design with San Clemente’s landscape.

“(SMS) had a vision to fit it with the Center and the community and somewhat of a beachy color scheme, and I think that’ll be better on display once the bar and restaurant are open,” Corwin said, adding, “I do think once everything is complete and open it’ll be something that people feel good about, that really fits in.”

Once people come inside the building, Brunetti hopes to complement the quality of the interior, which includes leather seats, recessed lighting, and blue walls, by maximizing what he can control.

“We don’t want the beautiful building and average service, we want the beautiful building and great service and excellent food and drink,” he said. “The finishes are kind of a testament to what’s to come, which is taking care of the people of San Clemente or whoever decides to come visit us.”

The Scripted restaurant will not be ready to open for another few months, but MetroLux leadership is excited for the added value it will provide.

Corwin highlighted the lengthy bar area and outdoor patio as spaces that guests will enjoy, as well as the option to have food delivered into the auditoriums.

Brunetti said the restaurant will have a classic American menu with an occasional twist. Certain items will be elevated, such as filet mignon medallions, but the staff is also working to make the items “approachable,” like salads that can be easily converted into wraps.

“We’re going to use as (many) local, organic ingredients as we can, and we are a from-scratch kitchen, so the freezer should be fairly empty,” he added.

The staff is also excited to work with and host the community, as Brunetti said local high school students have already approached him about playing the grand piano that will be located on the second floor.

Another example of a partnership could be between the theater and local schools, that would allow them to use the IMAX auditorium for educational purposes. 

“If we have a school interested in showing a marine biology movie when they’re studying that subject, then they would rent out the theater for that showing,” said Rachel Reisfeld, the marketing manager. “That’s definitely something we’re going to be interested in and open to.” 

The press release encouraged guests to join M Rewards, the company’s free loyalty program that offers perks for both the theater and the restaurant, and mentioned that the theater will also offer special discounts for matinees, children under 12, seniors aged 60 and over, and “Bargain Tuesdays.”

MetroLux will show Death on the Nile, Dog, Jackass Forever, Marry Me, Sing 2, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Uncharted during its opening day.

Moviegoers can purchase tickets through the Metropolitan Theatres mobile app, online at metrotheaters.com, or at the kiosks.

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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