On Friday, local officials and business leaders cut the ribbon to mark the official grand opening of Silverspot Cinemas, the new high-end multiplex at University Place.

Cutting the ribbon, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce president Aaron Nelson said he’s very excited about bringing a big movie theater back to Chapel Hill after a long time without.

“Folks (in Chapel Hill) got in the habit of driving out of town in order to see their movies,” he said, “(but) we now have something incredible – a crown jewel for our community and a real anchor for University Place.”

Silverspot Cinemas is based in Latin America; this is only the third Silverspot location in the US and the first outside Florida.

“This organization…searched all over the nation (for a location) and they picked us,” Nelson said.

The theater has 13 screens with about 1300 seats in all, plus a new restaurant-bar called Trilogy. Regular tickets are $14.50 for adults – higher than other multiplexes, but that comes with plush leather seats and other amenities. (Silverspot designs itself as a higher-end theater.)

It was a $15 million project to renovate the mall to bring the theater to Chapel Hill. And Silverspot has also created 125 jobs, so it’s brought a sizable boost to the local economy.

Orange County Economic Development Director Steve Brantley was on hand for the grand opening. “This is unique because it brings a continuing revitalization of University Mall, (which is) a big part of the culture and economy of Chapel Hill,” he said. “We’ve also lost some theaters through the years, as we all know…and so now we have a theater coming back.”

And Silverspot officials were just as excited about the grand opening as local residents.

“We’re so pleased to be part of this important community in North Carolina,” said Silverspot CEO Francisco Schlotterbeck just before the ribbon cutting.

You can get a schedule of films and buy tickets online at Silverspot.net.