Brookville and Lawrenceburg officials have come to the rescue of the Brookville Theatre, just a few months before Jan. 1, when new movies will be circulated in digital format only, requiring expensive projectors.
The Lawrenceburg City Council approved a $300,000 Lawrenceburg Regional Economic Development Grant about a month ago to upgrade the single-screen facility, reports Grant Hughes, the grant program director.
Instead of awarding the dollars because of jobs creation, “this grant was revitalizing a downtown area that was losing a lot of its population and businesses,” he explains.
Rick Bender, who has owned and operated the business since 1988, says, “I was thrilled to hear it. The theater has been running in the red for the past five years or so. This digital thing was going to make the decision to shut the theater down ... Now... it will stay open.”
At one time, the single-screen theater at 16 W. Fifth St. contained over 400 seats. It now has half that number. He reflects, “The big single-screen theaters may be a thing of the past .... We’re going to redo the inside and put two screens in.” One theater will seat about 150, the other around 75. Starting times will be 15-30 minutes apart because the lobby is fairly small. “We’re going to go digital on both screens” and add surround sound. “You have to.” Screens, seats, wall coverings and carpeting all will be new.
On the exterior, “we’re going to redo the old marquee.” It will be cleaned up and painted and the classic neon sign and sidewalk will be repaired.
Bender hopes to open the renovated facility by spring. “There’s a lot to do here. I’ve got an architect working on the codes, distance between seats, fire ratings, soundproof walls, ADA compliance, before we can start getting bids. It will shut down during the renovation.”