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September 9th, 2003

Small Theaters

The other day I asked about mom-n-pop video stores in your area, as they’ve generally become a rarity in this age of Blockbuster. Sadly, movie theaters seem to be going the same route. Ten years ago, a 16-screen theater was a big event. Today, there are second-run theaters with that many screens.

In my area, there’s a Regal Cinema with 307 screens (or something like that) and the nearest art-house-type theater is an hour away. Fortunately, my town also has a small two (three?)-screen theatre that’s been there (in various incarnations) for decades. They’re somewhere between a first-run and second-run theater with dashes of art-house films and live performances thrown in. I finally went there for the first time this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised at the friendly atmosphere, good-sized screens, and prompt start time (there was a minute or two of locally-produced ads and a single trailer before the movie started). Plus, the theater has the support of Robert Duvall. Really, what else do you need?

Do you have any successful small theaters in your town? Are they well kept or are they dirty dollar theaters (which certainly have their place)?

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Greg
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 10:05:41 am
The LaGrange theater in LaGrange Illinois is a dirty dollar theater. They show a lot of second run movies but it's the price that can't be beat. All shows $2 day or night. Plus, it's got a really cool, old-fashion bathroom in the basement.

FROM: Dave [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 1:04:26 pm
in my area there is a great theatre .. its in PITMAN NJ and is called THE BROADWAY THEATRE. it even has a restored pipe organ. Check it out at

FYI - my father is in the process of writing a book on movie theatres of southern NJ ... should be interesting..

FROM: Chris
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 2:13:29 pm
Not local to me anymore - but The Fox Theatre in Atlanta is a classic grand old movie house, complete with Moorish details, stars on the roof, etc. it's not small - seats a few thousand at least., but its a wonderful place to see a play, concert, or yes, even movies. They did a summer film fest complete with pipe organ led audience sing alongs before the movie started. I saw Casablanca there.

FROM: Matt
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 6:08:11 pm
Robert Duvall rep's VA. like no other!

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 7:34:06 pm
Dave -- the Broadway Theatre's awesome... that's where Exhumed Films is showing their movies now. It's out in the middle of nowhere, but it's worth the drive. It doesn't have the grunginess of the old Harwan, but it has that 1930's class about it.

FROM: towinlovinit
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 8:36:48 pm
We got one in N. Portland called the St. John's Theatre. Very nice and clean, just redone. See any movie for $4.00. They have 2 good sized screens plus it is documented as being actually haunted.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 9:18:51 pm
When in Richmond, VA visit the Byrd Theatre: Richmond's Landmark Theater.

The Byrd combines the elegance of a classic movie house with the grunginess of a second-run theater. Plus, the staff is 75% college goth chicks!

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday September 9, 2003 -- 9:36:23 pm
That place should be renamed The Theatre Built for Robert.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday September 10, 2003 -- 10:12:20 pm
Just as soon as they install some glory holes in the men's room, it will be.

FROM: Dave
DATE: Wednesday September 10, 2003 -- 10:47:59 pm
The BYRD.. I've been there and what and awesome theatre..

FROM: Ace High
DATE: Saturday September 13, 2003 -- 6:12:03 pm
The mall I used to go to as a kid isn't the same every since this 24 screen cinematic monstrosity was implanted in it. They usually show the big name pictures on several screens. Call me a snob, but most of those movies suck.

FROM: Polly
DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 10:31:38 am
Hi all -- I am interested in opening an "old-time," small-town, second-run theater in a small Ohio town. I have not begun the process yet -- haven't even chosen the (specific) site, although the town I've "targeted" is a classic Ohio small town w/Mayberry appeal... :) Anybody have any wisdom, advice, experience... etc? Thanks so much!

FROM: Sean
DATE: Monday March 28, 2005 -- 12:57:54 am

I too am thinking of putting together a business plan for a single screen theater with a retro feel. The theater will cater to those that want the classy movie going experience. I plan on providing this by: 1) Reservation required 2) curteous wait staff 3) Dress Code 4) alcohol (21 and over) 5) Valet parking 6) recliners, love seats ect.. instead of normal seating. I could go on and on. Another touch would be the private booths that are elevated like in older theaters. I am 34 and love going to the movies but i hate the younger cell phone generation that are rude and ruin the experience. It seems today we have gotten away from the movie experience and we are crammed into a fire trap like sardines. I would love to hear your opinion.

Thanks Sean.

DATE: Tuesday July 26, 2005 -- 11:45:36 am
I just thought I would give an update on the La Grange Theater that was mentioned in the first comment. It was bought a year or two ago, nad currently plans are being made to renevate it to its original glory, or at least give us clean seats. The price may go up a dollar or two, but I'm still willing to pay it so long as I can walk to the theater!

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Tuesday July 26, 2005 -- 1:27:23 pm
Not in my town, but relatively nearby depending on traffic, in Northampton, MA, there exists the wonderful

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