New movie theater opens in Cary with international films

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Attendees gather for a “First Look at Lotus Cinemas” event on Saturday, March 19, 2022 in front of the new theater at Cary’s Parkside Town Commons shopping center.

Courtesy of Lotus Cinemas

Lotus Cinemas – a niche cinema offering art, independent and international films – will open this week in the Parkside Town Commons shopping center in Cary.

Parkside will host the first Lotus location – part of an effort by Paragon Theatres, its parent company, to promote underrepresented films. The four-auditorium theater is adjacent to Paragon’s, which opened in December.

“We recognize that there is a great artistic community in this field,” said Jared Comess, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Paragon Entertainment. “We want to bring in a lot of independent and foreign films, Bollywood especially given certain Cary demographics.”

Nearly 20% of Cary residents identify as Asian, according to the 2020 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Morrisville, over 39% of respondents said they were Asian.

For its opening night, Lotus will present “RRR” – a Bollywood film some say could be India’s highest-grossing production of all time. For future screenings, Lotus will partner with film studios, producers, directors and local organizations, such as the Raleigh Film Festival, to secure and promote unique content.

“The population here is so diverse with Asian and Indian communities and others from around the world,” said Sharon Patterson, spokesperson for the Lotus Project. “So we thought, ‘Why not give a dedicated space to films from those cultures?'”

The theater concessions will rotate to represent food and drink popular in different cultures.

“We’ll try to adapt it to specific movies,” Comess said, “like, maybe popcorn masala with Indian movies or pancakes with French movies. It will vary by movie.

Comess was unsure if the Parkside Lotus would be a standalone concept or if other Lotus theaters might open in the future. Paragon announced last year that it would open a second Cary Theater in Fenton, an $850 million retail project on Cary Towne Boulevard. Comess and Patterson could not confirm whether Fenton’s theater would include a Lotus cinema.

“We don’t know yet if it will be Lotus 1.0 and if there will be others,” Comess said. “We try it.”

Like all cinemas, Lotus and Paragon have to deal with popular streaming services and the continued apprehension of some would-be moviegoers about visiting public places. To entice reluctant attendees, Lotus tickets start at $6.

“We know people are still getting used to going back to the movies,” Comess said. “But we think there’s really nothing else like it in the area and we want people to feel cared for with this dedicated space.”

This story was originally published March 22, 2022 2:27 p.m.

Lars Dolder is a business reporter at The News & Observer focusing on retail.

Darcy J. Skinner