Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 16, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
VOL. 1 NO. 5 TUESDAY, MAY 16, 1972 28 PAGES The Empress Theatre in Fort MacLeod last balcony in south -Ric Swiharl Pholo Community theatres still alive By MARLENE COOKSITAW Herald Staff Writer It seems the smaller the town, the more the tendency to- wards family-rated movies, i[ a survey of towns in southern Al- berta is an accurate example. W. M. Finlay, owner of the Sunland Theatre in Milk River and Bill Rao, owner of the Pic- ture Buttc Cinema agreed that business was "down lo zero" and "a losing proposition" any- way, and that it was necessary to draw a general audience. "There's just no profit in re- stricted adult or even adult pic- tures here." said Mr. Rao. Dick Kicfcr, manager of the Fort MaelcKxl Empress theatre in a larger town of felt lhal family pictures had be- come a rarity "There's not such a thing anymore." Mr. Kir-tor foil that they didn't do Ihc business they used to because of television. Card.ston, a town of similar population, tended towards mainly family movies, accord- ing lo Lowell Hartley, manager of the M a y f a i r Theatre. "There's very few restricted shows brought he said. "They jusl don't do well." The trend in both the larger towns of Pinclier Crock and Tabor was towards adult and restricted adult movies, again because "they sell better." The Fox Theatre in Pincher Creek servos a town of and the Taber Tower Thealre serves a population of Westerns were billed as most popular in all of the towns ex- cept Fort Maclcod John Wayne was a big drawing card in Cardston. Walt Disney films also sold well in Picture Butlc. Fort Macleod tended towards pic- tures strong on violence and sex. "It's what everybody wants to according to Mr. Kicf- cr. Comedy completely outs o 1 d drama in almost all theatres. "People like (o was the pencral comment. Drama sold exceptionally well only when it was a highly popularized road show, with Love Story given as one example. Cardston fills iis theatre of GOO ''Ihrec or four times a said Mr, Hartley. "TV advertising makes all the dif- ference." The Sunland Theatre in Milk River scats 331. almost half the population. Open Friday and Saturday, business was stated ns "fair, generally around 100." The Picture Unite Cinema is about the same size, and serves the public on a three-day week- end, Friday, Saturday and Sun- day. The Empress Thcalre in Fort Macleod is open to sent 406, six days a excluding Sim- day. "Weekends arc the heavi- est." Bill Terry, owner of the Fox Theatre which seals 3CB, finds that business "remains steady through (lie week-." Peter Campbell of Taber opens (lie 500-scat Tower The- alre six days a week and on Sundays. At- tendance usually triples on weekends, but almost, the only limes -it's filled lo capacity is when we hold free matinees for children." Mr. Hartley of Cardslon felt that business was lost because Lclhbridge was able to show the first and often a second running of Ihc picture before the district towns could pay the necessary fee to run Hie show. Bill Terry agreed, comment ing "We pretty well lake wlial's available." Mr. Finlay of Milk River found "no trouble getting films." The general turnover of films in all towns was given as a now picture every three days, al- Ihough some lasted a week or longer. There was no predominance in age groups attending movies in most of the towns, but Fort Maelcod served ''mostly stu- dents and young married coup- les." Taber also experienced a majority of young people. Milk River features a bowl ing alley in the movie house. Mr. F i n 1 a y said lliat it was well-attended and found that if detracted "some, but not much" from the movie busi- ness. Mr. Rae in Picture Butlc faced the common problem in small towns of poor support from the community. He has applied for a subsidy from Ihc town, which he says is neces- sary to continue to keep it open. lie feels that the theatre la failing as a business and hopes to continue operating it as n community service. The Empress Theatre in Fort M a c c o rl has something now quite rare a balcony. There is an extra charge of 10 cents for using the area. Mr. Kicfcr finds that it is generally used by adults when (he main the- atre is filled with children. All of the theatres make the building available to spe- cial s I a g c productions and school presentations, althougl; the privilege seems to be made use of infrequently. However, the concession s t a n d is another nuilter. Tt seems everybody likes to eat. All 01 the theatres have a concession sland, featuring pop- corn and a snack bar. Snme had tried selling hot food, but found there was no call for it. "Popcorn still sells the said Mr. Terry. The Mayfair Thcnlrc in Card- slon is considering the possibil- ity of making hot food available at the concession stand.