by Mitchell Kirk
As Logansport prepares for a five-screen theater complete with what is said to be the latest in movie-watching technology, the city’s more than 70-year-old State Theater prepares to adapt by going in a different direction.
Construction of the 16,000-foot multiplex theater began in January on a 23-acre tract of land between High Street and Lexington Road.
Bill Hawes, a manager with Logansport Theater LLC, said crews are currently putting up masonry and working on tying into utilities. He said the structural steel should arrive within the next two weeks.
“Once that’s completed, we’ll have a completed building envelope and then start work on the interior,” Hawes said.
The theater equipment, which Hawes said is “cutting edge,” is scheduled to ship out in late April.
“It’s very nice projection and sound equipment,” Hawes said, adding that two of the theaters will offer 3-D screenings.
Hawes said he felt fortunate to be able to get the latest equipment in time for the theater’s opening.
“We’ve had really good luck,” Hawes said. “Sometimes you’re in a tough spot as far as things becoming available. We kind of held off to make sure we got the biggest, best, newest and coolest stuff. Some of the stuff isn’t even on the market yet. It’s the sort of equipment that would be standard in a facility four or five times this size and we thought we’d try our hand implementing it in a smaller venue.”
Hawes said the theaters will also provide reclined seating.
“It should be pretty comfortable for everybody,” Hawes said. “People not exposed to new top-of-the-line theaters are going to be pretty amazed with how great of an experience it is.”
Hawes also said he has decided to use rope LED lights throughout the building as opposed to neon products often used in older theaters.
The theater is expected to create four full-time and 28 part-time positions. Hawes said hiring for these jobs will begin this month.
Should the rest of construction at the new multiplex continue at its current pace, the theater’s debut screenings could include “Iron Man 3,” “The Great Gatsby,” and/or “The Hangover Part III.”
“With some good luck we’ll open for a blockbuster in May but it’s possible it could slide to June first depending on what’s coming out,” Hawes said.
With this brand new five-screen theater promising the latest in movie-watching technology, questions remain regarding the fate of the smaller, older State Theater downtown.
Alger Motorsports bought the State Theater and Skyline Drive-In about a year ago. Bill Alger became president of the company as the city began talking with developers for the new multiplex.
In light of the increased competition, Alger said he is refurbishing a stage behind the theater’s screen and will be changing the name of the State Theater to The Shindig, a venue that will provide entertainment in the form of live bands, stand-up comedians and a Las Vegas-based Elvis Presley impersonator slated for Christmas.
“With the other theater coming to town, we’ve never had a chance to show what we could’ve done with this theater,” Alger said. “It’s just another town with another theater going to the wayside. This place is going to be a lot of fun.”
Alger said he had considered taking on a loan for improved projection equipment at the theater in order to continue screening movies. After hearing of the plans to develop the new theater, however, he quickly changed his mind.
“Are you telling me I’m going to pick up a loan for almost $2,000 a month when my business is cut in half?” Alger said. “There’s just not enough business for two theaters and there never has been.”
Despite the circumstances, Alger seemed optimistic the State Theater will make a positive transition into The Shindig.
“Logansport will miss out on old style theaters, simple as that,” Alger said. “But we will turn lemons into lemonade. It’s a little bittersweet but we’re moving ahead and we’re looking forward to the stage. I can’t wait to show everyone, it’s absolutely gorgeous.”
Alger said the theater would continue to screen movies through the fall, when he expects the stage to be finished so the lineup of live entertainment can begin.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.