Photo by David Minton

By Ken Sain | January 19, 2022

When you walk into the newly renovated Pollack Tempe Cinemas, Michael Pollack will be there to greet you himself, wearing his traditional black shirt.

Only it will be a hologram of the Chandler shopping center owner/developer — one of many new additions to his theater complex at Elliot Road and McClintock Drive, which reopened in late 2021 after a 20-month closure.

There are 15 more holograms on the walls, showcasing some of the products for sale at the snack bar. The sound system has been upgraded, as have all the theater seats.

“We still have some of the things that are the original character that this theater has always had, at least since I’ve had it, and that is all the memorabilia, the collectibles, a lot of the posters and a lot of things that are from movies that are many, many, many, many years ago.”

Pollack added new decorative ceilings, changed the curtains on the sides of the theaters to give it a contemporary look and refurbished the floors.

“It reminds me of Disney,” Pollack says of his sparkling floors.

Pollack said he began planning reopening six to eight months ago. That included ordering three black crystal chandeliers from Spain.

Pretty much everything is new and improved. Some of the major improvements are in the bathrooms — where he installed touchless toilets, sinks, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers.

That’s in direct response to the pandemic, which shut his theater down for nearly two years beginning in March 2020 after the government ordered all cinemas closed.

“We sat back and waited until we felt it was the right timing,” Pollack says. “First of all, there wasn’t a lot of content out, which was difficult.

Pollack Tempe Cinemas plays movies that have already been released and are on their second run. Movie fans who are patient can see the top movies a few weeks after everyone else but pay a lot less. Tickets are only $3.50.

Pollack didn’t set out to be a theater owner. He says he bought the strip mall on the southeast corner of McClintock and Elliot about 20 years ago and the existing theater owner wanted out. So he had three options, which were limited because the building’s floor sloped downward.

“I can tear down that building and start over,” Pollack recalls saying at the time. “Two, I can invent a new game called downhill bowling. Or, three, I can figure out how to run a movie theater.”

The time the theater was shut down gave Pollack a chance to make other upgrades. For example, patrons can now purchase their tickets and select their seats online, something they could not do before the pandemic.

However, he did bring back many of the favorites his regular customers enjoy. There are life-size figures of many entertainment legends and others, including presidents.

“This theater always had its own identity, it always had its own uniqueness,” Pollack said. “But now, it’s over the top. You’re not going to find a more contemporary theater than what you’re looking at right now anywhere in the United States that I know of.”