Just back from the new Hippodrome and ...




... I don't see how anyone's going to be disappointed when it opens next Thursday.

The lobby has been updated. Lots of wood and brushed steel. Tiled floors. Abundant light streaming in through large windows overlooking the Cooper River. Nice, classy posters of Hippodromes of yore (even the "original" in Constantinople in which wild animals fought each other).

If the screen isn't the biggest in the state, owner Mike Furlinger is confident it's the biggest in the Lowcountry. Either way, it's enormous. And it adjusts according to the requirements of the film — 74 feet across to accommodate wide-screen formatting and 54 feet to handle art house fare that wasn't filmed so big.

The seats are stadium and blue and and leather and made by BMW (a feature that pre-existed his long-term lease of the old IMAX). The owner of the Terrace Theater on James Island has installed all new digital sound technology. I'm told it's fully digital. I don't know exactly what that means but it apparently doesn't require converting information from analog to digital. The projector is new, too.

Don't expect movies showing on James Island to be showing at the peninsula. Furlinger is being careful not to dilute his clientele. The plan is to show blockbusters — Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Transformers 2, etc. — at the Hippodrome interspersed with the occasional art film.

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