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Crowds flock to movie theaters on Christmas

Goodrich Portage 16 IMAX theater employee Skylar Simko (center) Portage Ind. serves popcorn Donavan Burney (right) also Portage his daughter

Goodrich Portage 16 IMAX theater employee Skylar Simko (center) of Portage, Ind., serves popcorn to Donavan Burney (right) also of Portage, and his daughter Alexa Burney, 11, at the theater on Christmas Day in Portage, Ind., Sunday, December 25, 2011. Attending movies on Christmas is becoming a tradition among many families. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 27, 2012 8:14AM



VALPARAISO — The business day may have started later than usual for Portage 16 IMAX, but it started strong for Christmas.

Within 15 minutes of the theater complex at 6550 U.S. 6 in Portage opening at 3 p.m., two shows had already sold out.

Those were Steven Spielberg’s film “War Horse,” which opened on Christmas, and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which opened a few days before.

“First show at Christmas, and it sells out — that’s good,” shift manager Alex Srednoselac said. “It’s been a slow couple weeks. I knew today would be steady, but I didn’t anticipate this much.”

Said shift manager Juan Mendez: “We didn’t anticipate that flush of a crowd.”

Mendez attributed it to sales of gift cards and the fact that the theater is the only thing open.

“We’re a weekend and holiday business,” he said.

For the Burney family of Portage, Christmas movies are a tradition enjoy most years.

“It’s a nice, relaxing end to a busy day,” said Donavan Burney, who came to see the new “Mission: Impossible” film with daughters Alexa, 11, Hannah, 13 and Haley, 15.

His wife, Nicole, and twins Grace and Payton, 7, went to see “Chipwrecked” at the theater.

Said Brian Davis of Highland: “This is our second year running.”

He and his family — wife Denise Davis, Paul Davis of Winfield, 12-year-old Alex Hope of Winfield and 15-year-old Robert Moreland of California — went to see “Avatar” in 3D last year.

“We normally do the family thing with the presents on Christmas Eve,” he said. “There’s nothing else to do (today).”

This year, they wanted to see “The Darkest Hour” in 3D.

Martha Chazez of Portage and Kenia Chavez, 10, came to the movies on Christmas for the first time.

“Nothing is open, I’m bored in my house and I want to watch a movie,” Martha said. “I like the movies.”

Kenia is a fan of the Chipmunks, so she wanted to see “Chipwrecked.” She also said she’d already opened all her gifts.

For Valparaiso University students Ping Lai, Jian Wu, Jinfang Liu, Yihan Hu and Wengang Gui from China, going to the IMAX was part of their first Christmas in the United States.

“We want to spend a memorable Christmas,” Lai said.



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