Standing two stories tall and spanning an entire city block, the newly-erected Theatre Box entertainment complex has garnered curious glances during its months-long construction in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Those inquisitive eyes will for the first time get the chance to look inside the ornate theater, dining and entertainment complex when the Theatre Box makes its debut Friday on Fifth Avenue and G Street, with a grand opening party featuring the likes of Pitbull, Nick Cannon and local influencers.
The 73,000 square-foot entertainment complex brings the glamour of Hollywood's famed TCL Chinese Theatre to San Diego with a dine-in cinema, the entertainment complex's focal point.
Housed at the same location will be a Sugar Factory American Brasserie restaurant and the Chocolate Lounge dance venue. Nick Cannon's Wild 'N Out Sports Bar and Arcade and a rooftop beer garden are set to open in the Theatre Box’s second phase.
The Theatre Box, the brain-child of TCL Chinese Theatre President Alwyn Hight Kushner and Sugar Factory founder Charissa Davidovici, is meant to give San Diegans an "innovative movie-going experience that is modern, fun and luxurious," Hight Kushner said.
The entertainment complex sits at 701 Fifth Ave., the location of the former Reading Cinema, which suddenly shuttered in 2016. The cinema was the location of several local film fests and movie-themed events. Theatre Box representatives say their venue will continue the tradition of hosting movie premieres and other cinema-centric events.
Upon entering the Theatre Box, guests will be greeted by a towering 45-foot tall entryway with the TCL's iconic handprint and footprint flooring. On Friday, Armando Christian Perez, known commonly as Pitbull, will be the first to receive a traditional "hand and footprint" ceremony at the San Diego TCL Chinese Theatre location.
Before making their way into one of eight theaters, guests can pick out sweet treats — from more than 500 classic movie-going candies to baked pastries, gelato and more — popcorn concoctions and signature cocktails, according to the Theatre Box.
The theaters themselves feature reclining seats that will already have guests' pre-ordered items ready to go. Late-comers will still be able to order menu items from their seat at the touch of a button.
Many of the cinema's dishes will come from the Sugar Factory American Brasserie restaurant, which will be accessible to theatre-goers and the general public. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring lavish concoctions like the Sugar Factory’s famous candy goblets and "Insane Milkshakes" topped with candy pieces and, in one case, a slice of cheesecake.
The mood inside the Theatre Box was jovial on Thursday as the long-awaited project inched closer to becoming a reality. The Theatre Box was scheduled to open in October and faced delays as owners tried to turn the historic theatre into a modern, up to code, venue, according to a representative. With just over a day until their grand opening, crews were still putting finishing touches on the venue.
Films screening at the Theatre Box this week, at $15 for adults and $12 for kids under 12 and seniors, include: "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Creed II," "The Grinch," "Mortal Engines," "Green Book" and "Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse."
Tickets can be purchased through the Theatre Box website and mobile app, or on Fandango, all of which will go live this week. Guests with questions can call (619) 814-2225.
Reservations to the Sugar Factory and the Chocolate Lounge can be made through the Theatre Box website.