‘Ready to get back’: West Twin Cinema set to re-open Friday
When Andrea Camp convinced her husband, Dale, to buy the West Twin Cinema last September, she considered it more of a public service than a good business decision.
“I just didn’t want to see it close,” Camp said, “and I also didn’t want to see a big, empty building on Main Street.”
If that’s what you’d expect a member of Craig’s city council to say — yes, even they are politicians, albeit minor ones — her partners, Amy and Vic Updike, the owners of Masterworks Mechanical, chuckled when they were asked if they considered the purchase a good investment.
“I just hated to see it go away,” Amy said. “It’s been there since, what, 1939?”
So the decision to re-open the theater Friday was more of a chance to give Craig something to do and maybe even help residents feel normal again, the Camps and Updikes said. Twin West is Craig’s only movie theater. They believe residents will come back despite the ever-present fear of the virus.
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“We can’t say enough about the excitement from people,” Vic said. “Everyone I talk to is ready to get back, even when there’s no new movies available. They’re just excited to go see the older ones with the popcorn and the whole theater experience.”
The theater will open Friday with a showing of “The Wretched.” Camp admits it’s an unusual choice, as the theater usually doesn’t show horror movies, but they picked the R-rated film because Craig resident John Paul Howard appears in it, and it’s also one of the newer movies. The theater will also show “Minions” this week to help balance things out.
Beyond that, the theater plans to show classic movies. Camp, for instance, hopes to show “Back to the Future” and maybe encourage residents to dress in 50s attire for “Grease.” Most distribution companies now offer packages of those movies instead of new releases since there isn’t much out there.
“We hope they will be movies that some enjoyed as a kid and now want to take their children to,” Camp said.
The theater’s small size and two screens makes it possible to open, as opposed to a 16-screen multiplex, Camp said, which is why the county commissioners specifically requested it to open to governor’s office. The plan is to offer a row of seats for a party or family, then have an empty row of seats in front and back. The plan will slash West Twin’s capacity of 305 by at least 50 percent, if not more, Camp said. She’s also marked off squares where customers can stand to keep a safe stance from each other as they wait for tickets or for concessions and plans to disinfect every day.
The cinema also installed air purifiers for each theater. Camp and her employees will wear masks. She won’t require that of her customers. She said Wednesday that she hadn’t heard back from the county’s board of health for the final approval of her plan but that she expected to hear back that day and that she was confident she met the requirements.
The two couples did some major remodeling to the theater and opened in December 2019, just three months before the coronavirus shut down the world. It hasn’t been an issue to keep the theater despite being one of the few businesses to shut down without any income coming in, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t excited to start operating again.
“We were really looking forward to summer,” Camp said. “There were some great movies coming out. And then that all kind of changed. But we are just really looking forward to opening back up and getting things going again.”
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