Santikos Entertainment’s newest theatre, Casa Blanca, officially opens on the Northwest side on Thursday, June 9, marking a pivotal day for moviegoers and local charities alike.

The new entertainment center, located at 11210 Alamo Ranch Pkwy., will feature laser digital projection, the biggest screens in Texas, 16 bowling lanes, a full-service sports bar, an arcade and a café, all of which will produce revenue that will fund the John L. Santikos Foundation within the San Antonio Area Foundation.

Santikos has operated as a social enterprise since last year. After taking out operating expenses and savings for future growth, revenue will go straight to a fund managed by the Area Foundation, said Santikos Entertainment President and CEO David Holmes. That money is then dispersed back into the community by the Foundation as donations, sponsorships, grants, and programming.

(Read more: Santikos Entertainment Rebrands as a ‘Social Enterprise’)

Santikos is expected to give back an estimated $12 million to the community in 2016. Over the next 10 years, Holmes estimates the fund will produce $20 million a year, he stated in a news release.

“(The Casa Blanca Theatre) is obviously going to be a new and exciting source of support (for the San Antonio Area Foundation),” Holmes said. “It’s going to generate funds to support the foundation, but I also hope that it gives us a platform where we can continue to tell the Santikos story.

“It’s amazing how many people today don’t realize what you do when you pick a Santikos theatre. That is, you make a conscious decision to support your community. That’s what I hope we can do with this — use it as a platform to shout that message.”

Theater 5 holds the largest theater in the US at 90 ft. wide. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
Theater 5 is the largest theater screen in the U.S. at 90 ft. wide. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

The Spanish-themed Casa Blanca Theatre is the first 100% laser digital projection theatre in the world. The laser digital technology improves picture clarity, color saturation and makes the image three times brighter. The theater will implement the best sound technology available as well as reclining seats in six of the auditoriums and oversized seating in the rest.

The theater is projected to be one of the top 20 in the country, attracting an anticipated 1 million visitors in the first year.

“It’s going to become a significant game-changer with the movie-viewing public,” Holmes said.

When John L. Santikos died in December 2014, he gifted a majority of his wealth acquired from operating the largest family-owned theatre circuit in Texas to the Area Foundation. It was the largest single charitable donation in the history of San Antonio. The Santikos Foundation began operations early this year with assets estimated at $605 million.

(Read more: Santikos Foundation Will Redefine San Antonio Philanthropy)

“I think about it like a company that pays dividends, (but) only has one shareholder and that’s the Foundation,” Holmes said. “Every excess penny that we don’t need goes right back to (John Santikos’) trust.”

The Casa Blanca Theatre is the final legacy of the late Santikos, who designed the entertainment center before his death. At the building’s ribbon cutting Tuesday evening, Holmes joined President and Area Foundation CEO Dennis Noll in ceremony that honored the local businessman.

“Mr. Santikos would have loved this,” Noll said. “Mr. Santikos always said, ‘Once the lights turn out, everyone shows the same movie, so our experience has to be different.’ And when you walk into this movie theater with our bowling (lanes), with our visuals, with our fantastic projection and sound, it is not even close to what is provided at other movie theaters.”

Waiters pass out food while a dancer in a plastic ball performs. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
Waiters pass out food while a dancer in a plastic ball performs at the new entertainment center. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
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Top image: The new Casa Blanca Theater includes a bowling area.  Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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Katie Walsh

Katie Walsh studies journalism and English at the University of Texas at Austin and will graduate in May 2017.