Those of you who follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook have probably noticed a lot of photos popping up of what looks like a movie theater under construction. Well, I guess it is time to explain myself. Yes, the team at Modern American Cinema is opening our first movie house: The Orpheum Theater in Fairfield, Iowa!
“But Kristian, why Fairfield? Why a movie theater? Are you still making movies? Do you still believe in fighting corporate control over the motion picture industry?”
First, Fairfield is home to both the David Lynch Foundation Television Studios and Maharishi University. Second, Smithsonian Magazine (April 2013 edition) ranked Fairfield #7 in it’s list of top 20 small towns to visit. And third, Oprah loves this town! (OK, so number three doesn’t really matter.) Fairfield offers a unique demographic for small town America. It has an very educated and diverse population as well as a growing youth population without a nearby metropolitan area. It is a town of sustainability and entrepreneurial spirit.
When I toured with Capone’s Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye, I visited many small town independent and nonprofit movie theaters. We would often throw after parties at local pubs, and I was able to speak with many different townspeople. I asked them, “What type of movies do you want to see?” Many agreed that they were not interested in having movies such as The Lorax or War Horse for three weeks at their local theater – they wanted something that was intelligent and maybe even a little risky.
Fast forward to August 2012…
My attention was caught when the Big Time Cinema theater chain went bankrupt. They owned a number of theaters in Iowa and Missouri that all of a sudden had to turn off their lights. Fairfield was one of these locations, and I thought it could be the perfect spot for the type of nonprofit theater that had been so successful in other rural towns. I visited with the building owners, Mandala 6 Partners, and they agreed that a theater of this type would be an excellent addition to such an eclectic town. Read about the closing of the CO-ED Twin from the Iowa Source.
As the project evolved, it was decided that a commercial venture would be a better fit. So here we are now, less than two months away from our first opening weekend. The Co-Ed Twin will be returning to its original name, The Orpheum Theater, just as it was back in the days of Vaudeville, and the entire space is being beautifully redesigned by Mandala 6 Partners to resemble 1920’s art deco.
Here is what to expect from the new Orpheum Theater in Fairfield, Iowa:
- Renovated North Theater with a new stage, updated seating, marble tables for side seating, and upgraded digital projection
- A brand new restaurant in the former lobby that will operated by Tacopocalypse!
- Programming that includes both studio features and independent films
- Director and producer visits
- Midnight movies on Friday and Saturday nights
- A variety of film festivals, live performances, and program series
- Beer and wine service except during children’s programming
- Tea, espresso, coffee, soy milk, and other alternative beverages served along with regular Pepsi products
- Student and senior discounts
- Renovated South Theater to come soon
So that is it for now. I hope you are as excited as I am about the reopening of the Orpheum: a true independent theater where filmmakers can showcase their art.