WHEATLAND – The renovations are almost complete. The opening movie has been selected. The popcorn is finally perfect. Cinema West, located at the corner of Gilchrest and 10th Streets, will be reopened and ready for business April 22.
Cinema West is under the operation of Curtis Hofrock and Heather Ferguson. The pair have been the theater’s leaseholders since March 1 of this year. The motivation for rebuilding theater was a desire to provide something else to do for the town’s youth.
“There’s not a lot to do in the town for kids,” said Ferguson. “To me, they just needed a place to go. They needed a place to hang out. They needed a place where they had someone to talk to if they needed to, or something to let go their stress.”
“We both grew up here in Wheatland and this theater was a big part of our lives when we were kids growing up,” said Hofrock. “And so to see it sitting empty and not having movies playing was something that we wanted to make sure changed.”
Cinema West originally closed because the previous owner was tired and needed a rest from running the business for health reasons. Ferguson has been working on repairs since the building since then.
As the leaseholders, Hofrock and Ferguson are responsible to the Wheatland Town Council. Working with the council has been a positive though challenging experience.
“It’s been a good process and there has been lots of great conversation back and forth that has happened,” said Hofrock. “And I think we learned a lot. We learned a lot about the community itself.”
“The town has been amazing to work with,” said Ferguson. “I hear a lot of people say sometimes that it is stressful to work with them, but actually it is stressful on all parties.”
The rebuilding process has involved learned about what the dynamics of the town have become. Another organization which has been a big help in that aspect is Platte County Economic Development.
“I went away to college and moved away from the community for an extended amount of time,” said Hofrock. “But in coming back—what are our age groups that we are reaching out to? What kinds of things do we have going on here in Wheatland?”
Besides governmental and economic entities, numerous private citizens, businesses, and even family have offered their time and effort to help see the theater come back to life.
“We’ve worked with a lot of different people. People have stepped up and volunteered to do some of our decorations,” said Ferguson. “My nieces and nephews were begging to come help rip carpet out, which just surprised me.”
“We found some old pieces from the Ramona Theater that used to sit just catty corner from us,” said Hofrock. “Jen Cook is working on putting those pieces of history into shadow boxes that will go on the wall here in the lobby.”
There will many improvements and changes brought along with the renovations to Cinema West, including new show times, and first run movies.
“We are gonna bring first run movies in,” said Hofrock. “The movie we open with next Friday, “Bad Guys,” that is the national opening day. That’s the day it open in theaters nationwide.”
“During the summer we are going to do a summer matinee program for the kids. Be watching for that,” said Ferguson. “It is going to be a set fee for all summer. They get to buy a pass and those kids can come all summer long.”
Other changes will be new designs, more concessions, and lower prices. While the renovations will change many aspects of the theater, some items will remain the same for the time being.
“Well we’ve done a lot of talking about the seating in the theater itself. Those are gonna remain the same for now,” said Hofrock. “It is a very expensive process to replace those seats and that is something we are gonna have to work toward.”
The community has been and will be a big factor in influencing and informing how Hofrock and Ferguson manage Cinema West. They want the theater to be a fun place while also having a wow factor.
“It’s going to be a fun atmosphere,” said Hofrock. “I want people to walk in and feel welcome. I want them to feel like they can laugh. I want them to feel like they can joke with our staff.”
“I think we they walk in they are gonna smell the amazing popcorn because Curtis has the popcorn down,” said Ferguson. “We are going to have TVs going. We are going to have adverting going.
“We are going to work with the community a lot. You are gonna see us everywhere you go. And don’t be afraid to give us an idea. Throw something out there. That’s how we got half of the ideas that we are doing.”