- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

OSAGE, Iowa (AP) - The Watts Theatre is a recognizable feature on Osage’s Main Street. The neon lights with the chrome, pink and teal facade stick out among the more subdued buildings on the street.

“A lot of people will come in and say, ‘Gosh, I haven’t been here since I was a kid and not a lot has changed,’” owner Tracy Walk told the Globe Gazette (https://bit.ly/1qw6ubU ).

The Watts Theatre first opened in 1950, owned by Jim Watts and his family.

At the time, the theater could seat 580 movie-goers and the building featured an apartment upstairs where the Watts family lived, according to Walk.

The apartment features a viewing room that looks out into the theater.

Walk said the apartment is a great place to stay when it snows because then she and her husband, Mark, can both still get to work.

“We live in the country, but this place has everything we need, too,” Walk said.

Over the years, the theater had been closed, repaired and remodeled. According to Walk, Paul and Gloria Bunge purchased and restored the building to its 1950s charm in the 1990s.

“They put brand new seating in, updated the projection equipment and sound system,” Walk said.

Mark and Tracy purchased the theater from Robert Williams and his children in 2006.

“Mark has always wanted to buy it, and he loves movies,” Walk said. “He didn’t want to see it close; he wanted the town to still have something.”

The one-screen theater has one showing per night at 7.

“There are not very many one-screen theaters left,” Walk said. “Most of them are multiplexes.”

The theater has a booking agent to schedule films and work with Hollywood to bring the most popular films as soon as possible.

“We have had some national openings, especially with kids movies,” Walk said. “We don’t do very many R-rated movies because we find that we don’t get very many people coming to them in a small town.”

If an R-rated movie is popular, they will show it. Recently the theater showed “Deadpool,” ”Revenant” and “London Has Fallen.”

The theater is now digital and featured upgraded Dolby sound.

“We get a lot of people coming from out of town, and they really like it because it’s different, it doesn’t look modern,” Walk said. “It has modern sound and picture. The theater itself is more retro.”

For children in local schools who meet their reading goals, the teachers choose a film and the students go on a field trip to the theater as a reward, one of a few events that the theater hosts.

“Out-of-town schools are now contacting us to do the same thing for their schools,” Walk said.


Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/

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