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 Swihart Pholo Community theatres still alive By MARLENE COOKSIIAW Herald Staff Writer It seems the smaller the town, the more the tendency to- wards family-rated movies, if 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 Butte Cin3ma agreed that business was "down to 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. Rae. Dick Kicfer, manager of the Fort Macleod Empress theatre in a larger town of felt that family pictures had be- come a rarity "There's not such a tiling anymore." Mr. Kiofer felt that they didn't do the business they used to because of television. Cardston, a town of similar population, tended towards mainly family movies, accord- ing to Lowell Hartley, manager of the M a y f a i r Theatre. "There's very few restricted shows brought he said. "They just don't do well." The trend in both the larger towns of Pinchcr Creek and Taber was towards adult and restricted adult movies, again because "they sell better." The Fox Theatre in Pincher Creek serves a town of and the Taber Tower Theatre serves a population of Westerns were billed as most popular in all of the towns ex- cept Fort Macleod. John Wayne was a big drawing card in Cardston. Walt Disney films also sold well in Picture Buttc. Fort Macleod tended towards pic- tures strong on violence and sex. "It's what everybody wants to according to Mr. Kief- er. Comedy completely outs old drama in almost all theatres, "People like to was the general comment. Drama sold exceptionally well only when it was a highly popularized road show, with Love Story given as one example. Cardston fills its theatre of GOO t hree or four ti mes a said Mr. Hartley. "TV advertising makes all the dif- ference." The Sunland Theatre in Mill; River scats 33 i, almost half the population. Open Friday and Saturday, business was stated as "fair, generally around 100." The Picture Butte Cinema is about the same size, and serves the public on a three-day week- end, Friday, Saturday and Sun- day. The Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod i.s open to seat 406, six days a week, excluding Sun- day. "Weekends arc the heavi- est." Bill Terry, owner of the Fox Theatre which seats 388, finds that business "remains steady through the week." P e't e r Campbell of Tabor opens the 500-seat Tower The- atre six days a week and "sometimes on Sundays. At- tendance usually triples on weekends, but almost, the only times -it's filled to capacity is when we hold free matinees for children." Mr. Hartley of Cardston felt that business was lost, because Lethbridge was able to show the first and often a second running of the picture before the district towns could pay the necessary fee to run the show. Bill Terry agreed, comment- ing "We pretty take what's available." Mr. Finlay of Milk River found "no trouble getting films." The general turnover of films in all towns was given as a new picture every three days, al- though some lasted a week or longer. There was no predominance in age groups attending movies in most of the towns, but Fort Macleod 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 bouse. Mr. F i n 1 a y said that it was well-attended and found that if detracted "some, but not much" from the movie busi- ness. Mr. Rae in Picture Buttc faced the common problem in small towns of poor support from the community. He lias applied for a subsidy from (lie town, which he says is neces- sary to continue to keep it open. lie feels that the theatre is failing as a business and hopes to continue operating it as a community service. The Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod has something now quite rare a balcony. There is an extra charge of 10 cents for using the area. Mr. Kiefer finds that it is generally used by adults when the main the- atre is filled with children. All of the theatres make the building available to spe- cial stage productions and school presentations, althougl; the privilege seems to be made use of infrequently. However, the concession stan d is another mailer. It seems everybody likes to eat. All or the theatres have a concession stand, featuring pop- corn and a snack bar. Some had tried selling hot food, but found there was no call for it. "Popcorn still sells said Mr. Terry. The Mayfair Theatre in Card- ston is considering the possibil- ity of making hot food available at the concession stand.