PICO RIVERA – The lights were down and the audience was ready for the grand opening of the Pico Rivera Village Walk 15 Krikorian Premiere Theatre on Friday. The cineplex opened to a crowd of 200 at 11 a.m. Friday for a first round of shows after eight years of planning and building. “It far surpassed anyone’s expectation,” Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke said. “It is so grand. This is a theater you would expect to see in Hollywood, Westwood or Pasadena.” The new theater was built on land purchased and cleared by the city eight years ago. Relocating the businesses and residents who were on the land, and cleaning up the property, cost the city about $12 million. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The land was later sold to George Krikorian, entrepreneur and founder of the chain of Krikorian Premiere Theatres, for $4 million. The opening of the movie theater, the first in Pico Rivera since an old drive-in left the city a decade ago, began with a gala celebration and ribbon-cutting for VIP’s on Wednesday night. Five movies were shown to Krikorian and city representatives, as well as vendors and other guests. “It was a true movie-going experience, and it was a good trial run for the staff,” Beilke said. “The staff is so wonderful, very professional.” At the gala, George Krikorian announced he would donate $2,000 to the Maria Hicks Scholarship Fund, founded in honor of a shooting victim who was killed on Aug. 10 trying to stop vandals from tagging a wall near her home. Krikorian also said he plans to give all proceeds from the sale of popcorn and drinks from opening weekend to a city program that provides scholarships for teens, as a show of good will and commitment to the community. Assistant Manager Esthela Hernandez said the theater’s first day open to the public was busy, with 200 guests for the first round of movies, beginning at 11 a.m. “For being a brand-new theater, it’s pretty good,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been pretty busy.” Hernandez, 26, said she has been with Krikorian for six years, and transferred from the Downey location to Pico Rivera. She said there was excitement in the community about the theater. “We had people stopping by at 8 a.m., asking when we would open,” Hernandez said. Hernandez predicted shows would begin selling out in the evening on Friday. A few finishing touches will be added to the theater in the new year, including the completion of a fifteenth screen and mural paintings in the lobby. For Friday’s attendees, however, the theater was already meeting expectations. The theater is offering $1 popcorn and sodas for opening weekend, as well as free giveaways and promotions to draw crowds. Joe Arquita, 27, a film student from Montebello, attended one of the shows on Friday. He came for the specials on food and drinks for the opening, and was impressed by the grandeur of the building. “It’s a helluva lot bigger than AMC, that’s for sure,” Arquita said. Beilke said he expects that residents will support the theater for the opening and into the future. “Just come, and keep coming,” Beilke said. “You’ll love it. It’s worth every cent.” firstname.lastname@example.org (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!