Almost 35 years ago, the single screen at the Doric Theatre in Elkhart, Kansas went dark. In 2016, the Doric Theater will come alive again with the Magic of Hollywood as well as live theater performances by the Morton County Community Theatre group.
Built in 1918, the Doric Theatre provided a venue for live Vaudeville performances and silent films. Mitchell Theatres purchased the property from the theater group last Friday. "Our county has struggled a bit lately but we are going to pull through it together," stated Brian Mitchell, "so what better way to show our confidence in the future, than to reopen our local theater."
Although showing films will be the primary goal, Mitchell Theatres and the Morton County Theatre group will work together to make the venue a nice place to view live theater. Additional lighting, sound and a staging area will all be considered during the remodeling process.
Single movie screens in small towns are referred to as "Weekenders" in the film industry. Such theatres typically operate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings exclusively. Film companies do not provide �first run� films to Weekenders and typically show films that have been out in theatres for 3 or 4 weeks, though they do rotate films each weekend. Mitchell Theatres intends to follow this formula, however on weekends when the Morton County Community Group has performances, they do not plan to show films.
"As most people realize, small town theaters lose money or are lucky to break even, even when run with volunteers. The movie business has been very good to our family, so what better way to give back to our community," stated Kenny Mitchell.
"However, this will not be your typical small-town single-screen theater," Brian Mitchell laughed. Remodel plans include stadium seating with high back rocker seats, 7.1 digital surround sound and extra wide row spacing. Other plans may include a lounge area where patrons can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer before the movie. "We may also work with local restaurants to provide additional food options, sort of a scaled down version of an Alamo Drafthouse or Studio Movie Grill," Mitchell said. "There is not a lot of excess space but we will make the most of what is there. We have lots of ideas, so it will be fun to see which ones will ultimately work out."
The Doric Theatre remodel will take place in conjunction with adding a ninth screen to Mitchell Theatres Sequoyah 8 in Garden City, Kansas. Both projects are targeted for completion in spring or early summer of 2016.
When completed, Mitchell Theatres will own and operate 102 screens in 14 locations across Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico & Oklahoma. Mitchell Theatres is currently the 44th largest theater circuit in the nation, with its corporate headquarters located in Elkhart, Kansas.