Shuttered Regal theater to reopen as VIP Moline 14

VIP Cinemas, a family-owned, Midwest-based company, will reopen the former Regal Movie Cinema in Moline on Thursday, July 11. The old Regal Cinemas Moline closed its doors about a year ago. CREDIT JENNIFER DEWITT

Nearly a year after the Illinois Quad Cities’ last cinema was closed, another movie theater company is stepping in to reopen the Moline theater. VIP Cinemas, a small family-owned, Midwest-based company, will open the new VIP Moline 14 at the former Regal Cinemas.

The multi-screen theater in Moline at 4100 38th St. is located near the Lowe’s and Walmart shopping complex along John Deere Expressway. Owned by the McSparin family, the company was founded in 2013 and operates a total of 17 theaters. 

“VIP Cinemas has grown a lot where major exhibitors have not been able to make it work whether it’s due to landlord issues, high rents, or other various issues,” Josh Ward, the company’s director of operations, told the QCBJ in an email. “We are looking to grow where we see markets that are underserved for theaters and are able to come in at the right price with the landlords or purchase the property.” 

According to Mr. Ward, the company is working closely with the Moline building’s landlord “with an eventual goal of owning the theater.”  

Among its 17 theaters are five in Illinois – within two and a half hours of its new Moline theater. They are located in: Lincoln, Macomb, Morton, Ottawa and Quincy. The VIP Moline 14 name refers to the number of screens at the Moline theater. 

While its latest addition adds to its density in Illinois, Mr. Ward said VIP Cinemas also has theaters as south as Boca Raton, Florida, and as north as Michigan. It also has locations in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri. 

VIP expects to hire 30

The company currently employs about 300 people and plans to hire about 30 for its VIP Moline 14 expansion. VIP Cinemas is headquartered in Lafayette, Indiana. 

Asked if renovations are planned in Moline, Mr. Ward said the focus has been on improving the building’s infrastructure such as issues with the roof, HVAC and picture/sound. “Longterm, we have plans on bringing in a premium screen or two (big picture, bright picture, specialty immersive sound) and reseating the theater. However, first we are trying to get reopened and guests back in the door.”

He added that VIP Cinemas will be lowering ticket prices “and ensuring the theater is the cleanest around.”

The movie theater chain, which now spans eight states, is not actively looking to expand in the coming months, Mr. Ward said. But he added “We have been slowly growing in the Midwest as we find good opportunities but are able to sustain them.”

More expansion possible?

But the company’s leaders “always have our eyes out for projects that we might be able to be successful with,” he told the QCBJ. “The industry is becoming increasingly consolidated and being of our size and scope has given us the opportunity to focus and give attention to each of our individual locations in a way that some of the large chains are unable to.”

Hiring is continuing for the Moline theater and applications can be made through the company’s website here. Patrons can view VIP Cinemas’ Moline 14 movie listings here. VIP Cinemas also can be found on major third-party ticketing websites including Fandango and Atom Tickets. 

The former Regal Cinemas Moline shut its doors on July 20, 2023 leaving the Illinois Quad Cities without a traditional movie theater. That meant for the past year moviegoers have had just two movie theater options, both in Davenport: Cinemark Davenport 18 and the GIANT Screen Movie Theater at the Putnam Museum. In addition, The Last Picture House – a boutique style movie theater – opened its downtown Davenport location in December. 

According to Cinema Treasures’ website, the Moline theater first opened as a Great Escape in May 2005 and became a Regal property in 2012. 

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