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Michael Anderson

97-year-old theatre to make digital conversion despite high cost

By Michael Anderson | Posted - May 5th, 2014 @ 8:23pm

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BRIGHAM CITY — The conversion to digital projectors has proven cost prohibitive for some small-town theaters. Still, the owner of Capitol Theatre is moving forward with the change this week.

"Running the business is more a habit or hobby," owner Kerry Walker said. "I don't know anything else to do with my spare time."

Walker is a full-time engineer who runs four movie theaters between North Ogden and Logan, but the small, two-screen building on Brigham City's Main street holds a special place in his heart.

"Since I was 5 years old, I was old enough to pick up trash (in the theater)," Walker said.

He also developed a love for film during those younger years.

"My mom used to drop us off here every Saturday," Walker said. "That was her sanity break. Back in those days, you always had double-features."

Walker and his six siblings watched dozens of movies there, some of them dozens of times.

"When the first 'Star Wars' came out, I think I saw that over 25 to 30 times," Walker said. "Never got bored with it either."

The Capitol Theatre first opened as the Elberta Theatre in 1917, according to the Utah Historical Registry. It first put on live Vaudeville shows. Walker's great-grandfather bought the theater in 1925 and started showing silent films. At one time, ticket prices were around 15 cents for adults.

While the process of converting to digital projectors and new screens may not be cost-effective for the small theater, Walker said he's making the change for other reasons. He says his enthusiasm for movies, and the historic building pushed him to make the decision more than anything else. He's using revenues from his other theaters to fund the upgrade.

As the Capitol Theatre reopens this Friday, Walker says he'll maintain the same low prices. Regular adult tickets are set at $6.50.

"As long as people keep coming to the theater, the history of this theater will stay running," Walker said. "Hopefully, we get another 50 years out of it at least."


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