After nearly 20 years in the movie industry, the King family says goodbye to the theater business as they sold the operations of King Ranger to Hometown Cinemas earlier this month.
“We were happy with what we had; we just wanted to take the next step up and improve the operations and so forth for the betterment of Seguin,” owner Ken King said. “Our family is getting into some other things, so we thought it was the best time for us to move now.”
The King family still owns the property and are leasing the building and equipment to Hometown Cinemas, which is a family-owned business that runs three other theaters in Texas, including one in Lockhart.
Seguin is similar to markets where the company operates its other theaters, making King Ranger a natural fit for Hometown Cinemas, President and CEO Randy Hester said.
“Seguin is a great market,” he said. “It’s a good movie-going market. Family movies perform very well, especially the blockbusters. The theater is well-designed and it’s in a great location. It’s very well known and has a good reputation, and we just want to enhance it.”
In the transition, the employees who already worked at King Ranger are all still there, except for general manager Rick Uhlhorn, who retired from the movie theater industry after 59 years in the business.
The King family hired Uhlhorn as a contractor and advisor in 1999. When King Ranger opened its doors the following year, Uhlhorn stayed with the company, serving as the general manager for 19 years.
“Rick has been in the theater business since he was a teenager,” King said. “We heard about him by word of mouth, and he’s been an excellent joy for us all these years.”
Since the transfer, Hometown Cinemas has dropped the movie ticket prices. The matinee tickets are now $4 and admission is $6 in the evening. Tickets also are $4 for seniors and children.
The evening rate for Friday and Saturday is $4.50 for seniors and children and $6.50 for adults.
“First thing we did was lower ticket prices,” Hester said. “(Tickets are) still very affordable, which is in keeping with our desire to make movie-going affordable for as many people as possible. That’s the philosophy we practice in our other theaters. The other theaters operate under the same ticket price structure and we find that customers really appreciate it. They can afford to bring their whole family.”
Hester said he plans on making upgrades, but all with the desire to keep the customer happy, adding that he looks to build a long-lasting relationship with Seguin and Hometown Cinemas.
“We are hopeful that the customers will embrace us, which I’m sure they will,” he said. “One of the things we also make sure we do in every community is to become part of the community. We support the chamber of commerce, we support local charities. We want to be known as your hometown cinema.”