Indie Cinema in Beaver: Main Street Theatre | Buzz Blog

Monday, October 26, 2009

Indie Cinema in Beaver: Main Street Theatre

Posted By on October 26, 2009, 9:40 AM

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Want to own your own cinema?

Take a leaf out of the book of Scott and Jennifer Fotheringham. They bought a delapidated little cinema in Beaver, which dates back to 1926 and turned it into a family business. Main Street Theatre (55 N. Main), so named for its location, is a gorgeous throwback to the days when the one-screen cinema with a 35 mm projector was the heart of small town life, before megaplexes in nearby cities sucked away their clients with a multitude of first run movies.---

The Fotheringham's cinema is the antithesis of multiplexes. Come off Beaver's Main Street, past the 1950s-style ticket booth, push through the doors and you find a hallway with a bright red carpet from one time Las Vegas mega hotel, the MGM Grand, and beautiful art deco lights dating back to the beginning of the cinema. There's an old-fashioned popcorn machine and candy stand and after you've stocked up on goodies, you enter the screening room itself, which seats 286. The back wall features several couches you can rent for $10 a movie and snuggle on with your honey.

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The Fotheringhams are in their late 30s - he's a respiratory clinician in Cedar City, she's an accountant -- and have discovered a new sense of community with their celluloid calling. Elementary school children watch a free movie every quarter, including such 1960s and 1970s classics Walt Disney's Swiss Family Robinson, Ol Yeller and The Apple Dumpling Gang. Scott Fotheringham revels in hearing the chaotic laughter at these screenings. "I think people don't know how to laugh anymore," he says.

While the Fotheringham's Beaver community is almost exclusively LDS, they've run a number of R-rated movies, including 'Taken' and 'The Hangover' that proved popular. Several patrons, however, were scolded by neighbors having been spotted leaving the cinema after such spicy fair. One told Jennifer Fotheringham, "I'll have to come in the back door next time."

The cinema, Jennifer says, might be haunted by the ghost of the original owner, ol' man Firmage, who set up a number of cinemas in southern Utah in the 1930s. One night the TV turned itself on, a door creaked open and a light blew out. She took off down the stairs, laughing at her own fright.

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They're open except Sundays and Tuesdays. Monday nights is, inevitably for the LDS community, family night. The only other nights they are closed is when, as it says on the schedule, "home football game" is on down the road.

With Christmas approaching, they will probably have a Christmas tree in a lobby surrounded by family presents and screen 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

The only downer of owning your own cinema, Scott says, is when people don't come, as they didn't for the western 'Appaloosa.' Then he questions why they did it. Mostly though he recalls being 16 and taking a date to the movies. That's a pleasure he wants his kids to enjoy. Now they run round the screening hall, man the stand and the ticket booth and invite their friends to screenings and playing Nintendo on the big screen.

"It'll give them something to remember," Fotheringham says with a smile.

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