The faded pink letters outside still spell “Destinta,” and the movie listings and times are printed on computer paper taped above the ticket office. But the once-closed movie theater in Independence Plaza has its front doors—which now bear the name Destiny—open for business once again.
Ben Kafash, president and CEO of Cinema Holdings Group, has taken over the former Destinta theater in Hamilton. Kafash and his brother operate the New York City-based company, which also operates theaters in Florida, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Destinta shut down last December, and the building remained vacant for eight months. Destiny 12’s grand opening was Aug. 16, but the theater had already seen a near sell-out the previous weekend after a soft opening launch on Aug. 1. Kafash said “Final Destination 5” came within a few seats of being sold out, and he expects the number of ticket sales only to increase.
But Kafash isn’t interested in comparing the establishment to other nearby theaters, like Hamilton rival AMC 24 on Sloan Avenue, or to Destiny’s previous ownership.
“I don’t compare myself to anybody…There is no competition within the community. Everybody has to be supportive for themselves,” Kafash said. “Their business over there? That’s how they run it. Fine. We run it this way.”
But Destiny 12 also has an offer that AMC certainly can’t match. Any day at any time, tickets cost a flat fee of $5, and the movies are the same new releases customers would find at any other theater, including midnight showings.
Kafash said there will also be promotions, such as one-cent popcorn on Tuesdays (the penny goes to a local charity). And Kafash said the prices and promotions won’t end any time soon; in fact, they’re scheduled to last “forever.”
“I think the problem is, nobody believes that it’s actually five dollars,” he said.
The name Destiny evolved from the staff’s rapid work to open the theater in just 48 hours.
“We just kept saying, ‘If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen,’” Kafash said. “It’s just got to be destiny. That’s really the only word you can use for it, you know?”
As for the names’ similarities—they differ by only two letters—Kafash said that was just a coincidence.
His reason for reopening the theater was simple; it’s beautiful, complete with 12 screens, stadium seating, digital sound and is only an hour away from the company’s office.
So far, the only major renovation at the theater has been to clean it. A large part of the cleaning was the seats and the changing of over 500 light bulbs.
“The main thing is customer service, cleanliness, sound, picture and air conditioning,” Kafash said. “So far we’ve got all those things going and working for us.”
One staff member working to get the theater back in shape is Bonnie Sullivan, who had worked as a manager for Destinta before it shut down, but was not employed there when it closed. The Hamilton resident jumped at the opportunity to return to the building as Destiny 12’s general manager.
“I was excited … I think this is a great location,” Sullivan said. “I just enjoy doing this, so I was excited at the opportunity again to come here and do that.”
The theater sits just across the street from residential developments off of Route 206, and is just minutes from Hamilton West High School. Angela Greib, a rising senior at West, decided to work part-time at Destiny 12 because of the easy commute, and said its proximity to the community is an exciting factor in its reopening.
“A lot of people like it because, with gas prices especially being up, [they] can just walk to the theater,” Greib said.
Greib herself had been a regular patron of the theater before Destinta shut down, and said many of the customers to come in during the soft opening were friends of hers from school.
Destiny 12 is located at 2465 South Broad Street in Hamilton. For more information, call (609) 888-1101.