New Cheap Movie Theater

New low-cost Houston movie theater looks to change the film game: Piñata arena included

New low-cost Houston movie theater looks to change the film game

PlazAmericas shopping mall Houston Viva Cinema opening May 2013
Viva Cinemas opens Friday at the revamped PlazAmericas. PlazAmericas/Facebook
PlazAmericas Mall Houston construction
The former Sharpstown Mall has been remodeled and brightened up. Southern Retail
PlazAmericas logo Aztec sun sign
The mall and theater are aimed at Houston's burgeoning Hispanic population. BoxerRetail.com
PlazAmericas Houston mall mercado
The mall entrance is brightly colored. Photo by WhisperToMe/Wikipedia
PlazAmericas shopping mall Houston Viva Cinema opening May 2013
PlazAmericas Mall Houston construction
PlazAmericas logo Aztec sun sign
PlazAmericas Houston mall mercado

An excited by-invitation-only crowd got its first look at the new Viva Cinemas complex at PlazAmericas Wednesday night, prior to its "Gran Apertura" (grand opening) Friday. The multi-screen theater will show a mix of first-run movies in English with Spanish subtitles as well as films from Mexico and other Latin nations in Spanish with English subtitles — all at a bargain price of $7 per ticket.

"We don't play that high and low cost game. We charge a low price for a movie day and night," said ​Viva Cinemas COO Art Seago. "It penalizes the working people who aren't able to plan a night out. Even our concessions, everything is at a fair price."

 "We don't play that high and low cost game. We charge a low price for a movie day and night."  

The former space, which was once Sharpstown Mall at 7500 Bellaire Blvd., stood damaged for many years due to Hurricane Ike. Now, after a nine-month, $2 million renovation, it's ready for business.

The 42,500 square-foot theater includes eight screens with state-of-the-art digital projection and all new digital sound. From concessions and arcades to theaters and restrooms, all amenities are easily accessible. For those 21 and over, wine, beer and margaritas are available.

Next to the theaters is Viva Sports Cantina, a 4,500 square-foot cantina offering tacos, tamales, fajitas, burgers, pizzas and other comfort food. All food and drinks can be served on special trays that lock into the theater chair so the food can be taken into the cinema.

Also nearby is Viva Fiesta Kids, a large area that can accommodate parties from 10 to 250 guests, with an entertainment stage and piñata arena. 

Seago wants to make Viva Cinemas a family friendly, Latin American-inspired destination aimed at Houston's largest demographic by embracing the culture and planning community activities.

"It will be on the calendar soon, but we plan on holding a community screening every Tuesday at 6 p.m." Seago said. "We'll have special features that are free for anybody who wants to come. Also, Sundays are Family Film Night — come as you are, completely free screening. " 

A free Wednesday Night Horror Fest is also planned.

Among those getting a first-look at the theater were Daviel Rios, Carlos Ortega, Angie Leon, Bonnie Sweeny, Javier Chavez and Houston producer/director/writer Jesse Salmeron, whose film, The Dreamer, debuts Friday at Viva Cinemas.