Big changes are coming to Winrock Center this week as a new 16-screen IMAX theater welcomes moviegoers to its grand opening.

The Winrock Stadium 16 celebrated its grand opening week with $2 popcorn, soft drinks and select movies Sunday through Wednesday and is celebrating with additional special events throughout the weekend.

Each of the four days featured a set of themed movies, such as ‘Sunday Fun Day’, ‘Superheroes for a Cause’ and ‘Reading, Writing and Regal,’ each of which donated the proceeds from the day to a local charity. Charities included NDI New Mexico, Ronald McDonald House, Roadrunner Food Bank and the Albuquerque Public Schools foundation.

Though there are more than 80 IMAX/RPX theaters across the United States, this is the first to be built in New Mexico.

IMAX, meaning maximum image, screens are different from the long and narrow screens of typical auditoriums. They are curved forward and span wall to wall and ceiling to floor to bring the audience members closer to the action.

The Winrock Stadium 16 is also the first New Mexico theater to include a Regal Premium Experience (RPX) screen, which “presents movies in the way filmmakers intended with powerful, uncompressed sound and bright eye-popping images in 2D and 3D,” according to a press release from Regal Entertainment Group.

Rachel Lueras, the western region marketing manager for Regal Entertainment Group, said the company is pleased with the turnout of the first few days.

“There has been a lot of community chatter about the theater and I hear people say how happy they are that we are here on this side of town,” she said. “I think that this opening has topped the attendance of others that I have worked with.”

Lueras came from the company’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. to assist with the theater’s opening week.

The new theater is one of four Regal theatres in Albuquerque and is next to the Winrock Mall on Louisiana and I-40, which is central enough to make people want to go to the movies more, said UNM senior Jacqui Stump.

“I am definitely a moviegoer. But I will probably come here more because it is closer to where I live and everything else,” Stump said.

Stump said she and her boyfriend were visiting the theater for the third time this week.

“We saw ‘Pacific Rim’ in the IMAX theatre. It was unbelievable,” she said.

The theater celebrates its official grand opening Friday. Regal Crown Club members receive free popcorn and soda with their tickets and the company is giving away merchandise to the first 100 moviegoers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

According to a Redevelopment Project Description released by the property owner, Goodman Realty, plans are underway to make Winrock Center a public destination for retail, office and living spaces.

Though the plan lacks a timeframe, it includes plans for fitness centers, a 30-foot scuba diving tank stocked with Pacific Ocean fish, an indoor skydiving facility and various specialty food and retail shops.