By: Cody Glydon
There is a certain magic about a theatre that can be difficult to explain in words. Theatres have always been a place where families gather, where a nervous new couple shares their first kiss, where we laugh, where we cry, and where we create special memories. Yes, theatres hold a special spot in everyone’s heart. The Napier Theatre in Drumheller is no exception. If you talk to any resident in Drumheller, I’m sure they all have a special memory of this historic theatre.
Since the walls can’t talk, I sat down with Jeff and Kathy Larson of the Napier Theatre to learn more about this iconic building and what it’s like to run a theatre in our community.
“We both like movies and it’s a fun business. You get to deal with the public, which is fun, and seeing different people” confesses owner Jeff Larson.
The Larson’s owned the theatre from 1996 to 1999 and acquired it again in 2005 and have owned it ever since. In addition to the Napier Theatre, they have owned the theatre in Strathmore for the past two years. Jeff is also a movie collector, estimating he has over 200 films and short films in his collection.
In today’s high tech world, what does a theatre offer that cannot be duplicated sitting at home or on the computer? Larson says it really boils down to one thing, the experience.
“It’s the experience with other people around you and that makes a difference rather than sitting at home by yourself. If you’re in with an audience in a dark room, especially during comedies, the people start laughing and it gets everybody going” says Larson with a smile on his face.
Of course when you provide that special theatre experience you must be have the latest technology to not only compete, but to stay current with the trends.
“We switched to digital two years ago and it was 60 thousand dollars to put in a digital system and we had no choice because they are phasing out film and if you didn’t do it, then you’re not a business, so we did that” remarked Larson.
Over the years the Napier Theatre has seen some big openings. A complete sellout of a show means all 370 seats are full, however Larson admits at 350 it’s tough to get seats together so they usually try to cap it at 350.
“It’s hard to say what the biggest one was. Things that did very well, thing that we had sell outs on, were the Harry Potter movies.”
Overall Jeff and Kathy Larson really enjoy working in Drumheller. Like many other businesses they say the people of the valley are the best.
“The people are really nice here and we like the community. We have been here for 10 years and have no plans of leaving. In the summertime, because it’s a tourist town, you see different people from all over the place. We’re really busy in the summer” gushes Larson.
You can find the Napier Theatre at the corner of 3rd Ave and Centre Street in Drumheller. You can find them on Facebook, online at napiertheatre.com, or call their movie hotline at 403-823-6411. By the way, just in case you were wondering, where did Jeff and Kathy go on their first date when they met? A movie theatre of course!
If you know of a Drumheller business story that should be told, please email the Economic Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 403-823-1320.