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August 21, 2013

KITCHELL: Future of theaters a cliffhanger

At one point in Cass County, motion pictures were shown outdoors on the side of the New Waverly General Store.

If downtown Logansport or the county is ever to have movies again, it may have to be via that same, Depression-era approach.

For the first time in more than a century, the city of Logansport now has no movie theater open. With delays befalling a proposed multi-cinema behind the Logansport Mall and the State Theater shifting gears to become a new entertainment venue called The Shindig, it will be a drive to neighboring county seats for overly buttered popcorn and first-run movies. The irony here is that smaller county seats such as Rochester, Monticello, Winamac and Peru all have theaters and Logansport doesn’t. What’s wrong with this motion picture?

We’ve had the State, the Roxy, the Luna and the Logan. Now, we’ve got nothing.

In this era when first-run movies are available on the day of release via one cable provider, it stands to reason that theaters aren’t exactly the easy, no-brainer investment they once were. On the other hand, theaters that have been around for decades and remain icons in the fabric of the community deserve better fates, and so do their owners. The small Indiana community of Spencer rallied to save its historic theater, but that’s not the case in a larger community like Logansport or Plymouth.

Last week, it was reported that there is no firm completion date for the multiplex in the east end. As it turns out, the previous deadlines reported in newspaper articles were, to borrow a movie title, “Pulp Fiction.” As for the administrative costs associated with the city establishing a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to provide $250,000 for the theater, that may be “Gone with the Wind” if the theater isn’t completed. “Other People’s Money,” that is, our city tax dollars, may pay for that cost.

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