Family time, blockbusters and more at the summer movies

Jun. 15, 2013 @ 04:45 PM

Summertime is movie time. And in Henderson, a 21-year tradition includes the family films at Marketplace Cinema.

Michael Smith, the owner, said the tradition goes back to the beginning of a long-term business plan when the multiplex theater opened in 1992.

“We’ve done it every summer since we opened,” Smith said. “I think if more kids can have a positive movie experience, they may come back when they’re older.”

The theater has films for a parent-child couple each Wednesday and Thursday over 10 weeks. Tickets, many of which were given away free, are deeply discounted for individuals as well.

Smith said going to the movies as a child was how he became a movie buff, keeping an avid interest into adulthood leading to development of his own independent theater multiplex.

“I grew up watching movies,” he said. “I have always enjoyed that.”

He also follows the industry trends, one being the push to digital projectors that is going to sweep his business into the 21st century within the next year.

“It’s not a matter of if but when,” Smith said, adding it will be a very expensive step. “We’ll be upgrading all of our video and sound equipment.”

The movie industry is requiring it. By the end of 2014, major producers will stop offering the celluloid reels. One issue is how they wear out, showing signs of wear toward the end of a daily run of weeks or more with audible pocks and visible flashes that degrade the value of the viewing experience.

Another hazard with the reels, according to assistant manager Nicholas Hendley, are errors as famous as when 100 reels of a Star Wars episode went out with a foreign-language voiceover. There are three to five reels for a movie that have to be changed over during each showing. The reel error was for one of the middle reels, so moviegoers were surprised by the sudden change in speech that took place somewhere in the middle of the show.

“That didn’t happen to us in Henderson,” Hendley said. “But we have had some reels that were upside down. We preview the movies because of defects like that, so when our customers watch, hopefully everything is as it should be and there are no interruptions.”

Blockbusters like Star Wars are another summer movie tradition.

Smith, an emergency room doctor at both Granville Medical Center and Franklin Regional, said Marketplace will have “Man of Steel,” “Monster University,” “World War Z” and “The Heat” this month. July will include “The Lone Ranger,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Pacific Rim,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Turbo,” “R.I.P.D,” “Red 2,” “The Wolverine” and “Smurfs 2.”

The family films lineup, which started with “Shrek Forever After,” will have “Rise of the Guardians” and “Adventures of Tin-Tin” this month. July includes “The Smurfs,” “Escape from Planet Earth,” “Hotel Transylvania,” “Madagascar 3” and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

Family films showings are at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Manager Ivey Reese said she remembers coming to the movies at Marketplace back near its first opening, when many families, including hers, would not allow youth to go at night.

“My nieces and nephews were not allowed to come, and I didn’t come,” Reese said, “but things are much better now. We also have security at night on Fridays and Saturdays as a precaution.”

Smith said his aim has always been for a family-friendly movie house. Some of the movie-making trends make that difficult.

“In late January into early March, they came out with just R-rated movies,” Smith said. “That kept children away, and it also limited our ticket sales. They are creating more product these days, but I’m not sure it’s a better product.”

Another challenge for running his theater is the uptick in costs demanded by the major film producers. The smaller cut for him and his staff and overhead expenses makes keeping the doors open that much tougher.

Still, the summer is young, and more movie watching experiences are coming, with their offers of getting away into other worlds for a while.

“We definitely strive for a family atmosphere here,” Hendley said, adding one movie he’s anticipating most is “Pacific Rim,” set for a July 12 release. “That’s almost like Anime — but live action — meets Godzilla. There’s actually a lot of good movies this summer that I’m looking forward to seeing.”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.