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St. Mary’s County is scheduled to get a new 12-screen movie theater next year.

St. John Properties, owner of 140 acres across from the Wildewood Shopping Center in California, announced Friday it has a letter of intent from R/C Theatres to build the 45,000 square-foot movie theater in the Lexington Exchange project now under construction.

The Baltimore-based theater is anticipating the opening of the 2,400-seat movie complex by the third quarter of 2014.

“The deal is struck with the movie theater,” Jerry Wit, senior vice president of marketing for St. John Properties, said Friday morning. “It’s going to happen.”

R/C Theaters intends to construct and operate a state-of-the-art movie theater with wall-to-wall movie screen and high-back, rocking chair stadium-style seating, St. John Properties said in a statement.

Lexington Exchange would be the 10th location for the movie theater company, which operates 72 screens throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. R/C Theatres was founded in 1932.

“R/C Theatres fills a pressing need in the California/Lexington Park marketplace, and attracting an entertainment use was among the top priorities in our leasing strategy,” Wit said the statement. “Multi-screen cinema complexes are high-traffic uses that bring immediate and long-term visibility to real estate projects, and provide excellent marketing opportunities for the entire tenant mix.”

“It’s obviously going to be a major anchor for their retail component,” said Robin Finnacom, acting director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic and Community Development.

“We consider the California/Lexington Park area an emerging demographic market that will support our high-tech theatre model,” Scott Cohen, president and CEO of R/C Theatres Management Corp., said in a statement. “The area has demonstrated retail strength with the presence of several national chains and the population is projected to continue its significant growth in the long term.”

St. Mary’s County has had one movie theater with six screens in Lexington Park since it opened in June 1986.

jbabcock@somdnews.com