PELL CITY -- Within the first hour Monday, more than half the seating was reserved for Thursday’s free movie day at the new Premiere Cinertainment.

People could reserve seats in one of its seven theaters Monday morning to ensure they could see a movie inside the new $9 million Premiere Cinertainment facility.

Don Massingill, regional director for Premiere Cinemas, said Monday morning he believed that all the free shows will be booked up by the end of the day.

“We’ve never had a sold-out opening event,” he said. “This could be the first.”

Massingill said he was pleasantly surprised and excited to see the local response to the opening of the new Premiere Cinertainment.

On Thursday, the theater opens with free showings of last summer movie releases. On Friday, it’ll begin showing its newest releases.

Each theater will accommodate 100-150 guests in the 47,792-square-foot facility, which also has a 12-lane bowling alley, a ropes course, an arcade or game room, café area and bar.

The theaters have luxury recliner seating with individual control panels and swivel food tables.

Massingill said the new facility is handicapped accessible, and each theater has 11 seats that are handicapped accessible, with additional spaces for four-five guests who use wheelchairs.

Premiere Cinertainment also offers closed captioning for the deaf, and has a special headset for the hearing impaired.

Massingill said Premiere Cinertainment also offers special description audio for the blind.

He said the new Premiere Cinertainment employs about 50 people, mostly part-time workers.

The opening of the new Premiere Cintertainment has been a long time coming.

“We really hit the jackpot,” said former Pell City Mayor Joe Funderburg, who made it his mission to bring a movie theater and bowling alley to Pell City. “I am excited for Pell City.”

Funderburg said in 2012, the year he was elected mayor, people had approached him about their concerns.

“They expressed concerns about not having anything for the kids to do and adults, as well,” he said. “That’s when I made it my number one goal to get a movie theater and a bowling alley.”

Funderburg said he never dreamed the two would be wrapped up in one package.

The former mayor said he was told time and again that Pell City’s population was too small for a movie theater.

He said at the time the closest movie theater to Pell City was in Talladega, which later closed.

“I finally got in touch with Gary Moore, the CEO for Premiere Cinema Corporation,” Funderburg said. “He liked the location. It just took time.”

The property that Premiere Cinertainment is on was tied up with another movie theater company, but the initial efforts to bring a theater failed when the economy took a nosedive in 2008.

The city was able to secure the land and, under a contract, Premiere Cinema Corporation is buying the property from the city.

The rest is now history, as the new Premiere Cinertainment is poised to open Thursday.

“I hope everyone really supports it,” Funderburg said. “To have the only movie theater in St. Clair County is special. It’s a big plus for Pell City.”