Local residents will have to wait at least another month before they can buy a ticket to a film at the new Westown Movies theater in Middletown.

Local residents will have to wait at least another month before they can buy a ticket to a film at the new Westown Movies theater in Middletown.

The opening of the new 12-screen multiplex off Merrimac Avenue – originally planned for mid-November – has been pushed back to at least mid-December as a result of last summer’s heavy rains and material delivery issues, according to its owners.

“We were hoping to be open in time for Thanksgiving, but we’re only going to miss that by a couple of weeks,” said Rick Roman, who will help manage the $14 million theater on behalf of Helmick Westown LLC. “Considering we broke ground in May, a seven-month turnaround time is still impressive.”

Roman said he’s now hoping to have the theater up and running in time for the opening weekend of “The Hobbit 2,” which is slated to hit theaters on Dec. 11, although an exact date has not been set.

A construction team helmed by GG+A of Middletown has been working up to 12 hours a day, six days a week to accomplish that goal.

“We think it’s going to be worth the wait,” Roman said. “This is going to be the best movie theater in Delaware, and not just the facility, but also the way we operate.”

Roman recently announced that the independently-owned Westown Movies will offer its own smartphone app that will allow movie goers to purchase their tickets online without having to pay the extra service fees charged by third-party companies like Fandango.

“We heard over and over again on Facebook that those service charges are something our future customers did not think was fair,” he said. “We listened and agreed that you shouldn’t have to pay more to just avoid standing in line. One of the benefits of not being a chain is we can do those types things when they make sense.”

Westown Movies also is working with local businesses to offer products made in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area, with deals in the works to offer locally-made products in Westown Movie’s self-serve concession stand.

Roman said the theater owners also are undertaking several measures to reduce Westown Movies’ environmental impact, including the sale of biodegradable popcorn bags and the installation of LED lights, waterless urinals and floor tiles make of reused materials.

But the real draw of Westown Movies will be the viewing experience, Roman said.

The 44,500-square-foot multiplex will feature 11 auditoriums of varying size with screens widths that range from 32- to 48-feet, as well as the large-format GTX Theatre that will offer a 60-foot-wide screen, luxury seating and Dolby’s new Atmos surround sound technology, which is compatible only with specially-produced films and supports up to 128 separate audio tracks.

“We’ve had to install more than 40,000-feet of speaker wire in that theater alone,” Roman said. “It’s going to blow people away when they get a chance to see a blockbuster for the first in that kind of environment.”

Westown Movies is expected to hire between 40 and 50 employees in the coming weeks.

Roman said the theater received more than 300 applications and is currently scheduling a second round of interviews with prospective employees from that pool.

“We’ve been very pleased by the high quality of applicants we’ve seen here in Middletown,” Roman said. “One of the hardest parts of getting the theater ready is having to choose which people to hire.”