AINSWORTH — “Even Rafiki knows that every day is a lesson in itself. Enjoy the ride.”
After an absence of five years, moviegoers in the Ainsworth region will be able to enjoy the excitement that movies often bring.
And more than likely, plans are for that first movie to be “The Lion King,” which is being released this month as a remake. The theater Ainsworth is expected to open the final weekend of July.
“That’s what our aim is,” said Kathy Klammer of Ainsworth, who has helped to lead fundraising efforts to get a theater in town after the Ainsworth Royal Theater burned down in October 2014.
“Who doesn’t like ‘The Lion King?’ ” she asked. “It’s going to be exciting. We are going to try and do some fun things, too, like around the holidays.”
The new Ainsworth Grand Theater was completed in a renovated building downtown. Plans are for it to show movies on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and be operated by volunteers. The theater is working with a booking agent to secure movies.
Klammer is part of a six-member board that oversees a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status. The board handles day-to-day operations like bill paying. Volunteer groups do everything from running the projector to concessions.
The new theater features 72 seats. It was built with insurance funds from the old theater and more than $200,000 that was raised.
The renovation of the building has provided some obstacles at times.
“It’s been an interesting adventure,” Klammer said. “Some days it has been a challenge. Now that we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, it’s going to be really awesome.”
The theater features both 2D and 3D capability and has Surround Sound. It also has wireless special speakers for hearing impaired and is wheelchair accessible.
People in the region are eager to see movies again. The Valentine movie theater has now closed, so the closest theater is in Stuart, which is about 40 miles away.
“We don’t have much competition, so we are hoping that we are going to draw from a big area. People around here were driving up to Valentine or Stuart, so now this is going to be a lot more convenient,” Klammer said
The Ainsworth nonprofit also owns the building next door, which is under the same roof.
“We always thought it would be nice to have a brewery next door. It seems like every other little town has a brewery, so it is the latest thing. Put that out there,” she added.
Klammer said for those interested in the property next door — especially for a brewery — the nonprofit group would like to work with them.
“We will make you a heck of a deal,” she said with a laugh.