VILLA GROVE — Reggie Phillips is hoping moviegoers will soon be filling theater seats again.
The new owner, who also owns Unique Homes in Charleston, has been doing repairs and renovations to the former Gemini theater building in hopes of reopening the duplex cinema in early 2013.
Repairs to the roof, climate control system and interior damage is under way, and Philips says he is also working with the city government to secure some funding from the tax increment financing district for the project. The theater has been closed since the summer of 2011.
"We're trying to get it up and operational, so we can start showing films as soon as possible," said Philips, who acquired the building from former owner Mark McSparin, also from Charleston. McSparin ran the theater from 1994 to 2008 and will once again manage the operation of the Twin Cinemas. He plans to operate the theater as it was before, with generally new releases and mostly family-oriented films. Discounted movie prices will be around $6 to $7 for adults and a dollar less for children.
"Concessions will be about half of the movie-chain prices," said McSparin, who also operates a small theater in Ottawa. "I think the price point is affordable and draws people in."
While both men are concerned about the future demand for digital projection equipment which is threatening small theater operations around the country, they plan to continue to use the current projection equipment until a solution is worked out. McSparin, who has been in the theater business for 23 years, said he believes the industry is still a few years away from making a decision on the digital projection standard.
In the meantime, the men are hoping to regain customers and rebuild a successful business to support any future needs for the theater. "People need to come in and give us a chance and see the movies," McSparin said.