Northwood Theatre brings entertainment and family fun

Published 10:00 am Thursday, April 22, 2010

The historic J.B. Thompson building in Northwood, Iowa, was transformed into a movie theater and has been up and running since August. The Northwood Theatre is at the intersection of Highway 65 and 105.

“We paid a dollar for it in the summer of 2003, and we may have overpaid,” Paul Krull said.

Krull is the president of the Total United Northwood Effort, which is a non-profit organization that owns the building.

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“This was a vacant building in danger of being condemned,” Krull said. “No one was really coming forth at that minute to try and save it.”

The building has never been a theater before. It was built in 1891 and used as a general merchandise store.

“It’s an anchor of Northwood’s downtown area,” Krull said.

The work has not been completely finished on the theater. TUNE has been organizing fundraising and renovations since 2003.

“The upstairs has been gutted, but we haven’t done anything with it yet,” Krull said.

TUNE is also working on more fundraisers for other updates to the theater. Because the building was never a theater it doesn’t have some of the usual decorations.

“We’re working at the moment to raise funds to put a marquee on the front of it,” Krull said.

Krull said he wanted to “get something on the front that makes it look like a theater.” Depending on the amount of donations it could take six months to two years before they could buy a marquee. The lowest price for a marquee is $10,000 and there are more expensive kinds as well.

“We’re trying to bring it to the way it looked 100 years ago when it was built,” Krull said.

Penny Robb is the manager of the theater. There is an assistant manager and the rest of the staff are volunteers.

“We have over 85 volunteers in the course of a month,” Krull said. “We have extensive community support.”

Volunteers help take ticket and sell snack at the concession stand. They also help clean the theater. There’s never been a day without customers, which is a success in a small town.

“Some nights are thinner than others,” Krull said. “On the whole it’s been working really well for us.”

Tickets are cheaper than some theaters in the area. Adult tickets are $4, 18 and under tickets are $3 and kids 2 and under are free.

“It just makes it easier,” Krull said. “I can take my wife and three kids and be out of there for 25 bucks, and you just can’t do that at the Albert Lea theater.”

The theater has one movie at a time and gets a new movie every Friday. Show times are 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sundays.

“The best movie we’ve played to date was ‘The Blind Side’ which played the week of Christmas,” Krull said.

Krull said many young families come to movies as well as older folks who want to see a movie but don’t necessarily want to go to Albert Lea or Mason City, Iowa.

The theater seats 137 and has accessibility for handicapped persons.

“Our claim to fame is the projection and sound quality,” Krull said.

Someday the theater may have 3D capabilities but now it does not.

The theater is also fully digital, which is quite rare even in newer cinemas. Larger cinemas are still using actual reels of film, but Northwood’s theater has a digital projector and uses a hard drive sent by studios instead of film reels.

The theater also has different specials on certain days of the week and they can be found on the theater’s website