I have always loved going to movie theaters. Growing up, it was a Christmas break and summer break tradition. We'd always see the latest blockbusters while enjoying an obscenely large bucket of popcorn and our favorite candy (Junior Mints for me!).
I love the previews, the hype, the sounds, the smells, all of it. We've all missed this part of culture because of the current pandemic, but as you consider entering back into this tradition, definitely consider visiting the Royal Theater on the Hendricks County Courthouse Square in Danville, Indiana, for your next movie trip.
The theater reopened at the beginning of October after being completely renovated and has been hugely popular ever since.
Bill and Sharon Wright bought the theater in 2017 from their neighbor Lee Comer. Bill is retired from being the Police Chief of the Danville Metropolitan Police Department.
When he bought the theater, Lee made him promise to preserve the theater's history.
What started as a fun hobby has turned into a much bigger project, but Bill is enjoying all parts of this new adventure.
Here are five reasons to make sure you see your holiday movies at this historic Hendricks County landmark.
I could go on and on about the history of this amazing place. Bill gave me a behind-the-scenes tour, and the amount of preserved items is really unbelievable.
Not only does the outside have that vintage movie theater look, but inside, there are so many original items preserved from the original theater, from floors to seats to even the theater lighting.
The theater was actually built next door to where it currently stands in 1914, and then the current building was built in 1927. Watching a movie in a 107-year-old building is incredible on its own, but every chair you sit in is a refurbished original chair! The original floor has been carefully preserved under the new ones.
Bill even stayed true to the theater's original colors, with beautiful red curtains and red and yellow carpet. Original movie posters hang framed in the lobby, the boiler that used to heat the building still stands, and a case in the lobby showcases old ticket stubs, film reels and photographs.
That case overlooks a huge projector in the lobby. This projector was the one used in this building for movies years and years ago. It's almost like going to a movie at a museum. Bill still has boxes in storage of items he would eventually like to display.
The ambience of this 220-seat theater is unmatched. While theaters today boast recliners, food delivered to your seat and a screen the size of Texas, there's just something about the classic movie theater that has a cozy feel to it. There are no bells and whistles, but it's a throwback to simpler times.
The movies are shown in digital but Bill hopes to upgrade to a laser projector in the near future for a sharper, clearer picture. The atmosphere and experience is very close to how it was back when it first opened over 100 years ago. In addition to the ambience, it's just more personal.
At the front of the theater currently is the leg lamp from the movie A Christmas Story. The leg sits on stage available for selfies before the movie begins. You won't find that in a big box theater.
I don't know about you, but I also stopped going to the movies as much when I had kids because taking the whole family to the movies was truly an investment. Ticket prices are ridiculous nowadays.
But at the Royal Theater, tickets are only $5. That's right, folks. Five bucks for one movie ticket! That's unheard of.
Choose from your favorite popcorn, soda and candy, and you're still well under the normal budget for movies nowadays.
4. Not Just Movies
The theater is also a venue that's available for rent! They've already hosted a wedding, a funeral, a proposal and birthday parties.
Imagine the photo ops in a beautiful place like this for your next special event. Bill even has a few tricks up his sleeve, like putting on a laser light show for birthday parties.
In fact, it's the only movie theater in the county equipped with a laser light show. For pricing and availability information, you can contact Bill by email here.
5. Support Local
Bill's passion for the history of the theater is infectious. For someone who has invested so much into our local community, he's giving back once again by keeping this relic preserved, beautiful and available to be enjoyed by others.
He even has a sign collecting donations for Sheltering Wings, a local non-profit. When you see a movie here or rent the space, you are supporting not only local families but Hendricks County historical culture. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and location, and the fact the public can enjoy it for such a small price is a gift!
Bill's goal is to keep it going as long as he can in working order. He is working on online ticket reservations for the future.
For more information and showtimes, you can visit them online or on Facebook or Instagram!