For more than 30 years, families along the North Shore have had to drive to Duluth in order to see movies on the big screen.
All that changed when new management bought the old movie theater in downtown Two Harbors. This May, Harbor Theater LLC opened its doors, allowing families from along the North Shore the opportunity to save time and money, and to spend quality time together closer to home.
"It's a small town reopening of a movie theater and we want to get family time back again," said Harbor Theater Manager April Schultz. "We want them to come to a movie where they can afford it, so they don't have to drive all the way down to Duluth."
A focus on family and community is what makes the Harbor Theater stand out from other movie theaters in the area. According to Schultz, in a time where Netflix allows people to have a movie theater in their living rooms, the 150 capacity theatre provides a venue for families to spend time together for a relatively inexpensive price.
Built in 1938, the theater suffered fire damage that forced the building closed until after World War II. In 1984 the theater closed again and was eventually used by a number of different businesses, until Wade Kimball bought it in 2013 and began renovating the building.
"We were kind of just using it for fun purposes because it was a big space, and we started throwing around the idea to see if the community would be open to having a theater again," Schultz said. "The response was great, so we gave it a try and it seems to be awesome, so we're keeping it going."
Schultz said that they did trial runs of movies everyday of the week at different times to find out what the best time to show movies was. Currently the theater has four showings every weekend, with shows at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and noon and 2 p.m. on Sundays. According to Schultz, the Saturday shows are geared towards adults, while the Sunday shows are more for families.
"We like to do the adult thing, so they can get out for date night or girls night out on Saturdays, and then Sundays we want to get the whole family going, the adults straight down to the little ones," Schultz said.
Up to this point, movie selection has depended entirely on responses from the community, Schultz said. The Harbor Theatre LLC's Facebook page updates regularly, asking its followers what movies they would like to see in the coming weeks.
"I'll throw 'What comedies do you want to see,' or I'll do a vote," Schultz said regarding movie selection. "Every movie that I've picked out has been suggested by the community."
The movies that saw the highest attendance have been The Lego Movie, Frozen, and The Sandlot according to Schultz. The success of the latter prompted the Harbor Theater to show The Sandlot 2 last weekend. As for new releases, Schultz is working with Buena Vista Pictures, the company that has produced popular movies such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Shanghai Noon and Bambi, to try and purchase the rights to show newer flicks, like those available in Duluth.
The schedule that is in place right now seems to be working well, but Schultz said that when autumn arrives, they will look to the community once again to see if improvements can be made to the schedule.
"We will go on what the community wants," she said. "If it seems there needs to be some schedule changes for more movies or more showtimes then we'll start doing that when the need arises."
For now, the Harbor Theater LLC will show two movies every weekend with $5 ticket prices, compared to Duluth 10's $10 evening ticket prices. All this is in an effort to get families to start doing things together, according to Schultz.
"We're trying to get everybody," she said regarding the audience. "We want the whole family unit to come back and start doing things again like they used to."