West Liberty theater keeps up with chains, cuts some costs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

West Liberty theater keeps up with chains, cuts some costs

WEST LIBERTY (KWWL) - As larger theaters go high-tech, Todd and Kerri Leach are trying to keep up.

"We work more and vacation less," said Kerri, who helps Todd run the New Strand Theatre in West Liberty. They're giving the building a facelift, and doing nearly all of the work themselves. The concession stand has been renovated, and they're now working on the balcony.

Kerri says it's presented them with many challenges. "I've learned how to do texturizing, and I've learned how to install urinals."

But perhaps the most important addition is their new digital projector, capable of displaying movies in 3-D. The Leaches have raised their regular showtime prices just a bit to pay for the equipment. In the long run, they expect to save on shipping costs, as the new projector uses small hard drives instead of 75-pound reels of film. Todd says box office sales have kept up this year, despite the recent economic downturn.

"We have seen fewer out-of-town people visiting the theater, but locally, business has been strong."

They say a few Hollywood blockbusters, along with slightly lower matinee prices, have been keeping their seats filled. "We actually lowered our matinee price for regular films, to try to make them more affordable for families," she said. "You have to think about the economy and how it's affecting everyone."

The leaches say there's still the occasional big-screen stinker, and roller-coaster corn prices have made things interesting. A 50-pound bag of popcorn seed went from $10 to nearly $25 in a matter a few months earlier this year.

But both agree that movies are timeless, and that their appeal will continue to draw crowds, no matter how low the numbers on Wall Street fall.

"Movies are a great value," Todd said. "They let people escape the day-to-day realities of their lives."

The Leaches hope to have their balcony finished by early May, when they host an international film festival.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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