Regal Cinemas Pinnacle Stadium 18 & Imax
The Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 and Imax is the sole anchor of the performing arts in West Knoxville. It completes the phalanstery that is Turkey Creek by adding a performance space to a place where people can already work and live. It perfectly envelops those who visit it with all of the feelings, sights, and sounds that theater goers have sought from theaters in downtown Knoxville, but rather than bring people to a theater it brings the theater to the people. It is the embodiment of Daniel Libeskind’s quote – “Life is about experience, it’s about participation”
The Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 & Imax is located in the relatively new Turkey Creek development in Farragut, TN. This extension to the older road, Parkside drive, was approved back in 1997 by the local governments and the proper permits were filed for construction. Unfortunately for the developers, the area on which they planned to build this new mecca of West Knoxville was located on a fragile emergent marsh ecosystem fully loaded with endangered species of beaver and various delicate wetland creatures which local conservationists were willing to fight to save. This halted construction in the area for six years until finally an Easement was
signed where the conservationists were granted control of a smaller area in the Turkey Creek region as a wildlife preserve and despite further protest. The large remainder of the area was rezoned C3 business. This allowed the construction to continue unhindered.
At that time, the local Regal Cinemas Theater was located in a decaying building on Kingston pike next to an Ingles supermarket. This building was in a sorry state and the Regal Entertainment offices saw an opportunity to capture the ever-growing population in Farragut by throwing in a bid for a lot in the new development. So was born the Idea for the Pinnacle. This fantastic landmark of cinematic entertainment now stands in Turkey creek next to the Petsmart and across from the “Shops at the Pinnacle” in Turkey creek. Part of phase 2 of the development. The new theater brought new life to the entertainment and culture scene in Farragut. Starting from 2003 when it opened, this new mega-theater sought to bring the west coast feeling of glamor and glitz to the streets of Farragut. Its bright lights and flashy facades point to Hollywood and present a false front of fame to the passers by in Turkey Creek.
The development in this location (Turkey Creek) creates a false sense of aristocracy and wealth through facades of large, old style
architecture which begin with the Pinnacle’s large marquee and is echoed throughout the shops. The different areas within this phantasmagorical shopping center and city center are clearly marked by grand entranceways which reflect the Pinnacle’s grandiose box office area which is similarly bordered by large columns which impose themselves upon the skyline. The staggered front façade of the Pinnacle reminds one of an “inverse” of the inside of the Bayreuth or the Tennessee Theater and this serves a similar purpose of drawing one’s eye to the box office and the door where the main display is located. These exterior features elevate the appearance of the building in a cultural sense with columns and lights. Columns are typically associated with power or stability and lights, specifically the lights present at the Pinnacle, are associated with fame, performance, and theater. The bare bulbs on the underside of the marquee are reminiscent of other theaters from ages past which other buildings decided to compliment by adding rustic architecture or touches to their exterior facades. This type of architectural ploy is similar to mnemotectonics in that the style in of the Pinnacle would remind patrons of theaters in the past and therefore convey feeling of old theater to those who visit. In addition to lights, large, theatrical columns adorn the front of this structure. Once again, these features remind a visitor of the inside of another theater. The way that the columns border an arch incorporated into the facade above the box office makes the box office roof appear to be a stage, and the columns and arch together make up the proscenium arch.
The interior of the theater is very interesting as well. The design of the Pinnacle appears to be inside out. The interior includes facades of balconies and windows. These features which are common on city housing facades are present on either side of the interior of the Pinnacle. This inside out approach to architectural design plays a very important role in removing visitors to the Pinnacle from reality. Since the theater does not want people to feel like they are in a theater, what better way to accomplish this than making those who come to this local feel that they are inside the theater while they are outside. Then when they walk inside the building, visitors observe windows, balconies, and even a picture of
downtown Knoxville. The picture adorns one of the walls inside. During the day, the light inside the pinnacle comes mainly from the two large windows under the “proscenium arch”. At night, the lights come from fixtures hanging from the ceiling on the inside of the building, but the light is baffled by the whimsical objects which are suspended around the lights. The picture of downtown Knoxville is also lit, but instead of baffled light, a series of lights on the wall directly under the picture light Knoxville and provide a glow similar to the glow that can be seen coming from downtown at night. This lighting effect leads visitors to a feeling of being outside and seeing the glow from the city in the distance.
The location here is very important. Turkey Creek is interesting in that the road came before the buildings. This type of development is similar to the construction of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The two Las-es both started from a street and built up. Turkey Creek is also a product of the road that runs through it. The Parkside Drive extension to Campbell Station was a huge step toward increasing the size of the town of Farragut and some of the surrounding areas as it improved the ability of traffic to flow from one end of town to the other. The amount of traffic that was going to be moved to this extension from the main highway, Kingston Pike, was predicted to be enormous, and a lot of retailers and developers saw this as a grand opportunity. As soon as the road was complete and areas on either side of it were zoned properly, buildings starting rising out of the swamp. In relatively little time, this emergent swamp became a concrete wasteland and haven for shoppers and ever since the construction of the Pinnacle, moviegoers. This area is markedly set aside from the old town of Farragut. The town of Farragut only controls up to the Bestbuy, and Knox county lords over the rest of the development, including the Pinnacle. However, it appears as if neither Knox County nor Farragut is in control of the development. Turkey Creek is so different from both areas that it can be viewed as its own area which can be related to the closed off or separate theme parks of Disneyland. The differences in facades and architecture from the surrounding areas also seems reminiscent of the two wondrous theme parks. The only difference being that Turkey Creek has no walls, and the old style architecture and higher sense of culture seems to be slowly seeping out from within its core. From the Pinnacle, out to the public.
This area can also be analyzed based on Carlson’s theories of nodes, edges, districts, and landmarks. The main road that cuts through the middle of the area serves as one example of an edge. The main road divides the mega stores of Wal-mart, Target, and other similar big box stores from the other side of the street upon which sit eateries and fine dining along with a few shops. The other shopping centers are further along the road towards the Campbell station end of Turkey creek. Each district presents a unique performance space to the community and contributes to the illusion contained within Turkey creek. The Pinnacle has a district to itself, and presents its flashing lights and movie nights with glowing neon and high power spotlights. The box office is ablaze with life and light and resembles so many other fantastic places. This showy box office and
interior betray a wonderful space for performance. Its relative mirror across the street, “The shops at the Pinnacle”, presents a different, less “Hollywood” performance space. This space is utilized by shops to display their wares so that the wondering flanours may gaze at the dazzling display of gaudy goods. Music in this area serves to set the mood and aid the people into relaxing. From this area, a flanour is free to look across the street and instead of participate; simply observe the spectacle that is the Regal Pinnacle 18. Other districts up and down the streets include a car dealership, a row of shops, the hotel district, a district for houses and a rather small banking and business section. The interesting thing about this set of districts in Turkey Creek is that they cover all aspects of someone’s life. Turkey Creek has a place to work, eat, live, and be entertained. It is a self contained city but much smaller than any city we are accustomed to today. It is in fact much more similar to Walter Benjamin’s idea for a phalanstery. Although Turkey Creek is not a large apartment complex, it still contains all of the necessary elements outlined by Benjamin in a much smaller space than traditional cities.
The false sense of stardom that one senses when at the Pinnacle has been amplified and accentuated time and time again with high power premiers such as Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson for 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” Jessica Alba and Dane Cook for 2007’s “Good Luck Chuck,” Will Ferrell for 2006’s “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” Jessica Simpson, Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott for 2005’s “Dukes of Hazzard,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for 2004’s “Walking Tall,” Cuba Gooding Jr. for 2003’s “Radio,” and Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart for 2009’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Regal Cinemas keeps the big names rolling into this theater in order to keep up their higher class image. This mirrors all of the other theaters in the area which bring in acts and performances from all over the world to keep customers coming back to the ticket booths. Whether the Regal Pinnacle is built to or not, it is performing a number of critical functions in the Farragut community. Aside from making quite a fair deal of money for Regal Entertainment Group, the Pinnacle is bringing hot new movie premiers to Farragut, and these premiers are drawing a larger crowd to Farragut rather than the City of Knoxville. This is slowly allowing the town of Farragut to pull away from Knoxville in the cultural tug-o-war that has been going on for quite some time between West and East. Although a revitalization of the City is taking place right now, the brand new life brought by the new movies and premiers coming to the Pinnacle in the wonderful new location in Farragut may be the nail in the proverbial coffin for this cultural battle.
The Pinnacle at Turkey creek has had a profound impact on the surrounding area and the people that live there. They no longer are forced to make the half hour trek to downtown Knoxville in order to attend a show at a theater that looks and feels like a theater. The architecture of the Pinnacle and the surrounding shopping center act to draw the local residents to this oasis of class. This oasis not only serves to quench the theater goer’s thirst for performance, but also as a window to the rest of the town of Farragut, but this window is false. Mere minutes away from the bustling shopping center lies log cabins, twisty mountain roads, and trailer parks, but many visitors to the community will never see that part of town. This makes Turkey Creek an “airport” of Farragut as Soja’s definition of an airport. However, this window is merely a window frame and panes with a painting behind the glass. That is to say that the view that visitors to Farragut get by staying in Turkey Ceek is not representative of the entirety of the Farragut, Loudon, and Lenoir City areas. Despite this fact, Turkey Creek is the image left in visitors heads as most of the hotels in the area have moved to this shopping center. Since food, entertainment, and other necessities are located within the confines of the “anti-town” of Turkey Creek, there is no need for visitors to venture out into the other local areas unless they have a specific purpose or desire to see it all. So more than Soja’s example, Turkey Creek shares similarities with Terazin. In the same fashion that the Nazi’s used Terazin as an ideal concentration camp where the Jewish residents were all “happy” and everything seemed to be wonderful for them. This Turkey Creek development acts like the red cross movie which the Nazi’s allowed to shoot in Terazin. The pictures which people see on the screen that is Turkey Creek and the screens in the Pinnacle are not real in the sense that neither represent what is actually true. The Pinnacle and Turkey Creek are one with each other and both serve similar purposes of distraction. Thusly, very few people will leave with any other vision for Farragut other than the grand theater of the Pinnacle Stadium 18 and Imax in their heads.
-Russell Thomas Graves