Summer movie season is nearly upon us. My inner geek is already squealing with anticipation over what is to come in the next few months to our local cinema.
It used to be, for the big blockbuster-type movies, I would want to see them at the big chain multiplex with the biggest screen and the best sound system. But, that’s changed.
About 3 years ago my family and I moved to a rural area just outside Delaware, Ohio (about 20 minutes north of the northern edge of Columbus). Delaware is a small town, and an old town. There’s a little movie theater in town called The Strand. The Strand just celebrated it’s 95th birthday, having first opened on April 10, 1916. And, even cooler, it has been in continuous operation for those 95 years.
It has only 3 screens. A main auditorium and a smaller side theater downstairs, and a balcony theater upstairs. While the side theater screen is fairly small, the main and balcony screens are of decent size. They’ve recently upgraded their sound system, so the sound is actually pretty darn good.
But, with only 3 screens The Strand often has to juggle what they’re showing. Sometimes they won’t be able to show a film the day it opens simply because there is no screen on which to show it. That presents a challenge to them, but they handle it well.
Since moving here The Strand has become our theater of choice. There was even a time recently we were headed off to see a movie (I don’t recall which at the moment) that we didn’t think The Strand was going to be getting at all. That’s pretty much the only time we’ll go to the big multiplex. While my wife and daughter were getting ready, I was on the computer checking Facebook and just saw a post from The Strand with their schedule for the next week. They were getting the movie we were just about to go see. We changed our plans on the spot. Didn’t go to Rave and waited until the following week and caught the flick at The Strand.
So, what is it that keeps us coming back? Well, the theater itself is just cool. It’s still got that old theater vibe, and a lot of the original decor is still there. There’s still a pipe organ in the main auditorium. So, that’s cool. Delaware is a fairly small town, so there’s no fighting crowds. Also, (and this is a big plus these days) it’s considerably cheaper than Rave or AMC. Considerably. General admission is $6.00. However, Tuesday and Wednesday admission is $4.00 all day. Rave and AMC are both around $9! The Strand’s popcorn is amazing.
But, what keeps us coming back is the people. The staff at The Strand is the best. The first time we went there my wife and I caught a later show, so when we came out the place was mostly shut down. There was one employee left, and she was manning the lobby as patrons exited. Well, since my wife and I like to watch the credits to the end usually, we were the last people out. As we were leaving we were asked how we liked the movie. Well, that got us chatting and we ended up getting a little tour of the theater and some of the history. It was awesome, personal attention that you’d never get at one of the big chains. My wife and I decided then and there that The Strand was our theater. And it’s only gotten better. We usually hang around and chat for awhile after seeing a movie with whomever is working (and not too busy at the moment!)
There are plans afoot for a $5 million dollar renovation that will add more screens, a new blade marquee, a back entrance and more. I’d be concerned that the charm of this nearly century old theater would be lost, but I know the owner and board are very mindful of the theater’s history and that history will be preserved as much as possible.
My family and I will be spending a lot of time at The Strand this summer enjoying movies such as Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Green Lantern and Captain America…not to mention Kung Fu Panda 2 for my daughter. And we’ll be loving every second of it.