BELLINGHAM - Sneak preview events at the Barkley movie theater earlier this week ended up raising nearly $100,000 for local charities.
Regal Entertainment Group organized the events with $2 movie tickets, $2 popcorn and $2 drinks during its pre-opening of its 16-screen theater Dec. 10-12.
With the proceeds of each days' sales going to local charities, a total of $97,000 was raised - $30,000 for Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County, $29,000 for The Bellingham Herald's Extend-a-Hand and $38,000 for Bellingham Food Bank.
"We were really pleased with how this event turned out," said Rachel Lueras, marketing manager for Regal.
She said it was one of the higher totals they've seen for this type of event. Regal estimates about 23,500 people attended the sneak previews.
The enthusiasm for the new theater carried over into the official opening at midnight Thursday, Dec. 13, with nearly 1,500 people lined up for the first showing of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
Hobbit moviegoers starting lining up around 9 a.m. Thursday, Lueras said, adding that there was plenty of enthusiasm in the line.
"It was a fun crowd," she said.
John Arrigoni of the Barkley Company said the first week went smoothly. The company has spent years designing and developing the property, which at this point has the movie theater, The Woods Coffee café and a pond with a trail system. On Thursday, three fountains began operating at the pond, shooting water 10 to 15 feet into the air.
"It's been a long project and to see it culminate like this is wonderful," Arrigoni said.
For its grand opening, Regal is offering free popcorn and soft drinks with paid admission through Thursday, Dec. 20.
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