Theatre Atchison to remodel Royal Movie Theatre

Travis Grossman in the Theatre Atchison ticket booth. Photo by Ayden Pugh.

By Ayden Pugh, The Circuit.

Earlier this year it was announced that Theatre Atchison would undertake the remodel of the Royal Movie Theatre. Theatre Atchison is a nonprofit community organization that puts on ten shows a year for public viewing.

The renovation is a response to the decline in family friendly venues in Atchison. Within the past five years Atchison has lost its mini golf, video arcade and most recently, the local bowling alley.

“We’re going backwards in Atchison. Parks are nice and we have plenty of them but it’s just not scratching the itch,” said Travis Grossman, Executive Director of Theatre Atchison.

This is not the first time renovation of the Royal has been attempted. The most recent attempt resulted in The Royal Theatre closing in 2014 due to lack of interest and outdated facilities. The movie theatre had been a profit venture in the past but this is the first time it has been attempted as a nonprofit.

Profit ventures like movie theatres are, more often than not, paid for out-of-pocket, while nonprofits have an opportunity to apply for grants and other sorts of funding. Those funds allow them to pay for the better quality facilities.

“Even though we’re nonprofit, we still pay a sales tax— even on the tickets we sell. So the community stands to make money back from this thing opening up,” Grossman said.

“We started looking at the economic vacuum that this thing created.”

He says when moviegoers travel to see a movie often they will also plan to shop or eat before or after the show, which boosts the surrounding stores. He hopes that if there is a movie theatre in town again, it will help the surrounding businesses as well.

“I think it’s a really nice fit for Theatre Atchison,” said Anita Buhman-Wiggs, Theatre Atchison board member. “We are already doing wonderful live theatre, so we are in a really nice position to support and promote film.”

Grossman hopes that the theatre will fill the gap of some of the funding that leaves town and even provide a couple jobs for local residents.

“It’s a quality of life issue and it’s also an economic development issue. So with any luck if we do well with this thing we could generate several hundred thousand dollars.”

He estimates The Royal will take up to 1.1 million dollars to remodel. “We want it to be a hot ticket that makes people reason, ‘Why would I go to Kansas City for dinner and a movie when there’s a perfectly good movie theatre here?’”