Malco Theatres has officially announced the opening date for its new $12 million theater in Gateway Commons: June 20.

Karen Melton, a Malco spokeswoman, said in an email that details concerning opening day should come soon.

According the Memphis Business Journal, Malco, which has 350 screens in 34 locations, plans to add its Malco Extreme Theatre concept, which features a 70-foot IMAX-style screen, in Owensboro; Collierville, Tennessee; and Tupelo, Mississippi.

The company previously announced the new theater will have 14 screens -- two fewer than the current location at 5333 Frederica St. It will have recliner-style seating, reserved seating, a bar and café, in-seat dining and Dolby Atmos sound.

The current Owensboro Cinema will close June 18.

The chain was founded in 1915 by M.A. Lightman -- the name is a contraction of M.A. Lightman Co. -- in Sheffield, Ala. It entered the Owensboro market in 1937, buying what was originally the Empress Theatre at 418 Frederica St.

That theater closed in 1989 and is now home to Theatre Workshop of Owensboro.

Fifty years ago, Malco operated five theaters and two drive-ins in Owensboro, but it later consolidated all its screens in the south Frederica complex.

Malco began its expansion out of downtown in 1967, with the opening of The Plaza in Wesleyan Park Plaza. A second screen was added later, creating the Plaza Twin Cinema, which closed in September 2000.

Mall Twin Cinemas opened in Lincoln Mall in 1971 and closed in 1997.

Malco began moving into the "South Frederica" area in 1980 with the Owensboro Twin, across Frederica from the then-new Towne Square Mall. In 1987, it became the Owensboro 6 and two years later, the Malco 8. In 1997, that building was razed for a shopping center.

Malco moved farther south in the same shopping complex, opening the Cinema 12. In the fall of 2004, the Cinema 12 added four screens to become the Cinema 16.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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