[Recognition May Not Be Enough to Save Villa from Wrecking Ball]
KSL News, 22 November 2001
USA Today named the Villa one top ten great places in the nation for classic cinema. However the recognition may not be enough to save the theater from the wrecking ball, as news specialist John Hollinghorst reports.
A movie like "Harry Potter can still line ‘em up at the box office, but in recent years it has been mighty tough to fill this huge auditorium, designed originally for the archaic Cinerama movie process. The Villa had stadium seating long before the movie industry coined the term.
KELLI JENSEN, THEATER LOVER:
This where you experience a movie. You don't come to see it, you experience it.
Most days not enough people experience the plush furnishings, the spectacular mural art, the big curved screen, and old-fashioned stage.
AARON DOZIER, THEATER EMPLOYEE:
They used to put on live stage shows and stuff.
GRANT SMITH, THEATER LOVER:
It's a great theater. A large part of history. It's the oldest first-run, single-screen theater we've got. It's the only one we've got left.
TREVAN BIDDULPH, ASSISTANT MANAGER:
Like, I love this building, you know. That's the reason I work here still.
Villa lovers began campaigning to save the theater a few months ago when it was almost sold. That deal has now fallen through.
That's an encouraging thing in some ways. I can hope now that maybe the theater will pick up sales and we'll be able to keep it open.
The Atlanta-based company that owns the Villa is in bankruptcy proceedings and the building remains up for sale. The property and its water rights considered more valuable than the historic theater itself.
. . . and they're trying to sell it because they need the money.
USA Today listed the nation's top ten movie-going experiences. Villa lovers were delighted to their theater on the list. Kelli Jensen recently spoke to a corporate vice president in Atlanta.
He said, "We love the theater. We do not want to sell it. But your people in your town aren't supporting it."
Their goal now it to do the company's work and drum up more business, hoping bigger crowds will save the day. John Hollenhorst, Eyewitness News.
A similar battle over an old Cinerama theater in Seattle ended when Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen stepped in and bought it. His Cinerama Society sent a letter supporting the Villa, but there's no hint they would consider buying that theater.