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Our View

What do movie theaters add to towns?

June 22, 2012
By Terri Kelly Barta Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

Rural movie theaters are changing with the times and will soon all be digital. What with businesses that deliver movies directly to one's handheld device or home computer or television, what would the community need a movie theater for?

A movie theater is viewed as one of the attraction items in a town when people are looking at moving there. It is a community gathering space where neighbors can greet neighbors and then sit down and watch a movie together. Afterwards they can go to a local restaurant or bar and discuss the movie. It is a part of the social fabric of a small rural community.

In this day and age of microwaveable popcorn, the movie theater is the best place to get a good old-fashioned bag of freshly-popped corn.

Now, try to imagine Rugby without the old Lyric Theater as it was once called or Centre Cinema, as it is now named. One more empty building on Main Ave. People walk by and wistfully glance in the windows, memories of past times at the theater go reeling through their heads.

It is hard to imagine no theater on Main Ave. in Rugby. But with movies changing to the digital format, it could happen.

Sure, change is inevitable and we have to weather those changes. But some things from the past are worth saving. The movie theater at Rugby is an heirloom we definitely want to keep.

In nearby towns like Harvey and Rolla, the city owns the movie theaters. Last year, Harvey High School students sponsored fundraisers with the money going to their movie theater. It is this kind of community ownership that keeps a town viable.

Some small towns in states with rural populations have mounted campaigns to keep their theaters open. Some have been quite successful with the result of a stronger community because they had a problem to solve and a common goal.

For instance, we Googled "What are rural towns doing to save their theaters?" There were many examples of grass- roots efforts to save theaters. This is not unlike Scranton, North Dakota and a few other smaller communities that own and operate their hometown cafes, some with the help of volunteers.

Will Rugby someday need such a community effort? Maybe. The writing does seem to be on the wall with the switch to the cost-prohibitive digital movie system.

Maybe, we could start by attending more hometown movies at the local theater. Don't always rush off to Minot or another nearby community for a movie. Stay here and support the Centre Cinema. The movies are the same whether you watch them in your hometown theater where the money continues to circulate or you take your business out of town. Why not choose Rugby? Continue to make memories that will last forever.

 
 

 

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