On a rainy Monday night in March I experienced something I never dreamed possible. Clinton, Michigan, population approximately twenty-three hundred, is about a fifteen minute drive from the farm. In this tiny village, there’s a movie theater. Even though I drive through at least twice a week (if not more), I never paid much attention to it. When a group of us decided to see Beauty And The Beast, an internet search showed that it was playing there.
Admission to the theater is four dollars. That’s right, $4.00. Since we went on a Monday night, it was half off popcorn night. That’s enough right there for me to be a customer for life. But then . . . the sign said . . . Eden organic popcorn. With real butter . . . and sea salt. What’s that in the cooler? Virgil’s Root Beer? Oh yes. If I were to open a movie theater, this is what it would look like.
While there are previews of other films, there are also old music clips playing in between. Artists range from the Monkees to songs in German to Reggae. It’s weird and fascinating all at the same time! It was so much fun to watch a movie in this quaint old theater, that a couple of weeks later, I went to see Kong: Skull Island. There’s no way I would ever go see that movie except that I wanted to sit in the theater with my giant bucket of half off popcorn, sipping my root beer, having the theater experience.
After the movie, owners Karie Dorsten and Frank Cianciolo were kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes. After I gushed on and on about how much I loved the place, I asked them how they are able to offer movies and snacks for a fraction of what it costs at the big theaters. Karie said that they keep it simple, they are a family owned business and they do everything themselves, from selling tickets to running the concession. There’s an interesting article here that tells more about some upgrades they did to the theater in 2011 and how Frank’s band, Frank Allison and the Odd Sox played to raise funds for it.
So far his year I think I’ve seen more movies than I have in the last five and I’m sure this trend will continue. In fact, I’ve got plans to go again next week! Since the cost is nominal, it’s easy to take a chance on a movie I might not otherwise see and I love being able to support a local business. If you haven’t experienced the Clinton Theater, and are close enough to be able to, I encourage you to treat yourself to a night out. You just might see me there, munching on a giant bucket of popcorn!