Next month, the Academy Theater at 7818 SE Stark Street will switch to showing first-run films after sixteen years as a second-run venue. Consequentially, the owners plan to raise ticket prices. The business partners feel this transition better positions the theater for post-pandemic success and stability.
The transition begins on March 4th with The Batman by Warner Bros. Pictures. On that night, tickets will cost $9 for adults and $6.50 for seniors or children. Food and beverage offerings will remain the same with beer, wine, and pizza from Flying Pie Pizzeria.
Owners Heyward Stewart, Julie Stewart, and Ty Dupuis moved to first-run films in response to market trends. Over the last few years, movies have increasingly transitioned to early in-home distribution, eating up the demand for second-run showings on the big screen. Recently, many studios have agreed to a 45-day theatrical release window for new films as a concession to theater operators. Although shorter than the old 90 windows, it offers movie houses the opportunity to present unique entertainment to patrons and draw people back into communal viewing.
Movie theaters suffered more than most businesses during the pandemic. They faced prolonged shutdowns and did not have alliterative revenue sources to lean on. After reopening, moviegoers were hesitant to return to the theaters while infection rates climbed. New online streaming options allowed people to stay home, further slowing the industry’s recovery. However, signs point to a turnaround industry-wide, with a strong rebound for theaters showing big-budget first-run films. The fate of second-run theaters is unknown, making the Academy’s shift necessary for the theater’s continued operation.
The Academy Theater opened in 1948, serving a welcomed role in the community until closing in the mid-1970s. After its resurrection in 2006, it quickly became an icon of Montavilla. Theaters need visitors, and the owners hope this change will bring people back. Keep an eye on the theater marquee for new first-run titles and consider spending an evening at the Academy.