While the Virginia Film Festival was preparing a takeover of the Violet Crown theater in downtown Charlottesville, another takeover was going on behind the scenes.
Austin, Texas-based Elevate Entertainment Group, formerly EVO Entertainment, announced Oct. 23 that it would be acquiring all of four of fellow Austin-based cinema chain Violet Crown’s theaters in the U.S., including the Charlottesville movie house on the Downtown Mall as well as locations in Austin and Dallas, Texas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Elevate, which currently operates 15 locations across the U.S., with an additional four in the pipeline, has said it has a number of changes planned for its new Charlottesville holding when the acquisition closes in December.
The name will not be changing, they said. Staffing and amenities, however, will be.
“We are excited about furthering our offerings, folding in existing Violet Crown cast members, and adding new cast members,” Emily Martin, an Elevate spokeswoman, told The Daily Progress.
Martin also said that there will be updates to the bar and restaurant space on Violet Crown’s first floor, which has not been permanently occupied since the closure of Japanese eatery Kama late last year.
“We have a number of exciting improvements planned for the space including reopening the bar, lounge and full scratch kitchen,” Martin said.
Kama opened in 2019 shortly before the outbreak of COVID. Its owners attributed the closure to the “COVID-19 economic impact.”
Since its closure, “COMING SOON” signs have stood in the windows for nearly a year. Over the course of the film festival this past week, a Jamaican pop-up restaurant, Rum Punch, has occupied the space.
The Charlottesville Violet Crown houses 10 screens, and the Violet Crown acquisition has increased the number of screens under Elevate Entertainment Group to 172 nationwide.
Mitch Roberts, founder and CEO of Elevate and a fourth-generation cinema operator, has been growing his company at a brisk pace since 2014. Today, Elevate is the fastest-growing cinema entertainment center organization in the States.
The Violet Crown acquisition, Roberts said in a statement, “marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of our long-term vision for the future of cinema and entertainment.”
Roberts emphasized how much the Violet Crown brand has meant to him as an Austin local.
“Violet Crown is a brand close to my heart and I am honored to be trusted with the task of preserving and expanding their legacy,” he said.
Bill Banowsky, founder and CEO of Violet Crown, said he trusts Roberts’s vision.
“Our journey with Violet Crown has been extraordinary. We’ve cultivated a unique moviegoing experience that caters to film lovers, and that remains unchanged. I am confident that this acquisition will continue to bring the best film experience to the community, and am grateful that we found a team with the resources, passion, and vision to take Violet Crown to the next level," Banowsky said in a statement.
Banowsky is to remain an equity partner in the company after the acquisition closes.
Before Violet Crown, the theater at 200 W. Main St. was a Regal cinema for roughly 18 years. Regal closed the location in 2014. It reopened nearly a year later as Violet Crown, a move that effectively ended Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal’s monopoly on the Charlottesville theater-going experience.