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HomeGrown: Regal Entertainment Group

10:28 PM, Apr 17, 2012   |    comments
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From Celebrity A-listers and red carpet arrivals to Hollywood's biggest blockbusters...

"The Twilight movie generated nationwide interest in what was going on in Knoxville," says Mike Campbell.

Regal Entertainment Group owns 540 movie theaters-- more than 6500 screens- coast to coast.

"Geographically, we go from Alaska down to Key West, Florida and from Maine all the way down to Hawaii."

But in 1982, there was no star power, simply a lonely star in Tazwell whose time had long faded.

"I had a gentleman approach me about renting an old downtown movie theater that he had built in the 1930s. So, we reopened the Star Theater back in 1982. We were just planning to do that as a community service or hobby. As fate happens, the first movie that we played was "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial." And, I thought this is a great business."

So, Campbell left "White Stores" behind for a new adventure.

"My expectations were relatively low in the beginning."

With no experience, he started a little cinema company called Premiere.

"We found out not every movie was E.T."

Seven years later he sold it, but wasn't ready for the closing credits.

"So, we just came up with the name Regal and designed the logo in my kitchen."

The first purchase was a two screen theater in Titusville, Florida.

"That was the beginning of Regal."

In '93, the Regal company went public and grew to 2500 screens in just four years.

"We said 'let's build a theater here that's comparable in scale, design and scope to what we might build in California or New York.'"

The end result was Pinnacle Stadium 18 at Turkey Creek, a Flagship theater. And, just two years later, Regal moved downtown.

The Regal Riviera has special meaning for Campbell.

"I can remember going to the old Tennessee and the old Riviera when they were showing movies back in the late '60s and early '70s."

In the early 2000s, Regal teamed up with Variety Children's Charity.

"We believe that there's not a better way to raise funds for Variety than to bring in the stars."

Regal Entertainment Group has raised more than $4 million for Variety, putting Knoxville on Hollywood's map.

"It is a little bit overwhelming, but I try not to take it too seriously."

Being headquartered in Halls helps.

"It's not fancy as you know. Over the years we've had a lot of people question, 'why Knoxville?'. Well, first of all, most of us are born in this area. I was born in Knoxville. Secondly, it's just a great place to do business from."

Campbell is incredibly grateful, especially to Steven Speilberg's "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial."

"If that first movie that I ever played in the theater had not been successful my guess is I would not have been in the movie business today."

Regal Entertainment Group, born in Halls.

"I think we've taken a good dose of East Tennessee hospitality and spread it across the country."

HomeGrown in Tennessee.

Mike Campbell is now semi-retired.  He continues to be chairman of the board for Regal Entertainment Group.  Amy Miles is now the CEO and Director of Regal Entertainment Group.

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