Rebranded from Pratt Community Theatre to Four-Plex Cinema, plans continue to evolve as group promotes the building of a new movie theater in Pratt.
The dream of a new movie theater for Pratt is alive and well. Pratt Community Theatre continues fund raising for the proposed $3.9 million four screen theater continues with $2.2 million raised so far, said Dwight Cosby, senior project director for Opportunity Funding who is leading fundraising efforts for the project.
Cosby said he wants all the funding to be in place by Thanksgiving so construction can get started.
Fundraising efforts are on-going and Bill Keller president of Pratt Community Theatre, a 501c3 organization, said there is enough wealth in Pratt County to support the theate but they need for people to take action.
“If we don’t get sufficient community support, it’s not going to happen,” Keller said. “People can’t sit back and wait for someone else to do it.”
Some people have been confused that Pratt Community Theatre will produce live performances. To help reduce confusion, the name is being rebranded “Four-Plex Cinema.”
Cosby was brought in to help with fundraising efforts. He continues to talk to people and visit with the various clubs to present the financial benefits to the community of having a four screen movie theater.
An absolute key to make the theater work is for all the funding to be in place before the theater is built. The means revenue can go towards operating the theater and not paying off a loan with interest.
“No debt load means money for startup,” Cosby said.
One of the success factors for the theater is the audience base and there are almost 12,000 to draw from in and around the Pratt area. There are events at the Green Sports complex, Blythe Family Fitness, the new Pratt Community College track and soccer facility scheduled for completion in November that draw more people to Pratt and there is free time during those events when those visitors could take in a movie. Families, college students, families, hotel guests and truckers also have time to take in a show.
“It’s a great entertainment feature for the community,” Keller said.
Besides taking in a show, all those visitors have to eat, by gas and go shopping. And students wouldn’t have to drive to another community to see a movie. The average cost to go to a movie for a family of four is $37 and thats a good entertainment value.
“It’s a valuable asset for the community,” Cosby said.
There are two options for running the theater. A group, like the Warren Theater, could be brought in or the Pratt Community Theatre group could hire their own manger. If a group comes in, they would probably hire local people to run the theater. It’s a great place for employment for high school and college age kids, Keller said.
The income goal for the theater is $320,000 per year. Each theater would have one showing every day. There are a total of 378 seats for all four theaters. If only 25 percent of the seats are filled for each show, that would reach the desired $320,000 per year to make the theater financially successful, Cosby said.
“We want to make sure it’s sustainable,” Cosby said.
Discussions were held with Youth Core Ministries that operates out of the Barron Theatre and shows movies on the weekends. The missions of the two organizations are different and should both be sustainable.
Since Pratt Community Theatre is a 501c3, any profit has to go back into the community. Some of those profits could even go to Youth Core Ministries, Keller said.
The proposed theater will have four screens. Movie distributors have a lot of control over how movie theaters are operated. To get first run movies when they are released, distributors want theaters to show multiple movies. The theater will get more favorable treatment from the distributor if there are four screens, Cosby said.
If a movie is doing very well and filling up one theater, it could be shown on a second screen at the same time. Distributors take a huge percentage of the ticket revenue. The longer a movie runs, the more of that revenue shifts to the local theater so having more than one screen will allow the theater that option, Keller said.
Since distributors get most of the ticket revenue, theaters make their money off concessions.
The proposed site of the theater is north of U.S. 54 on the east side of Pratt not far from the new Dollar Tree store. Land for the project was donated by Dale Withers.
Kansas is known for spring storms. The theater doesn’t have a storm shelter planned because it would substantially add to the overall cost of construction. If bad weather threatens, the audience would be moved to the interior of the building.