Independent theaters on epic quest for secret success formula
Kiggins TheatreWhere: 1011 Main St., Vancouver.Featuring: Art-house films, revivals, special events with lots of audience participation, Tuesday Trivia Nights.Capacity: 340 seats.Tickets: $5 movies; special events usually $8.History: Opened April 24, 1936 with a showing of “She Married Her Boss,” starring Claudette Colbert and Melvyn Douglas. Designed by signature downtown Vancouver architect Day Walter Hilborn in Art Deco style and named for Vancouver John P. Kiggins.Websites: kigginstheatre.net and facebook.com/newkigginstheatreLiberty Theatre of Camas and WashougalWhere: 315 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas.Featuring: Second-run mainstream movies, some special screenings.Capacity: 348-seat main auditorium; 26-seat Granada Studio (stadium seating).Tickets: $4, except $3 on Tuesday “bargain night”; all 3-D movies are $1 more.History: Opened June 1927 as the Granada Theatre with a showing of “Lost at the Front” starring George Sidney and Charlie Murray. Designed by architect P.M. Hall Lewis of Portland; the building originally had a large stage for live performances, a pipe organ and seating capacity of 800.Website: camasliberty.comOld Liberty TheaterWhere: 115 North Main, Ridgefield.Featuring: Live music, special events.Capacity: 200 seats.Tickets: Usually $15 to $20.History: Built as a birthday present for a returning war veteran and opened April 25, 1946, as the Liberty Theater, showing “The Bandit of Sherwood Forest” with Cornel Wilde and Russell Hicks; its movie-screening era was brief. Don and Earleen Griswold bought the place in 1995 and were named Ridgefield’s Outstanding Citizens in 2009 for restoring its glory.Website: oldlibertytheater.comShow the customers exactly what they want. Dazzle them with something different. Be dependable and affordable. Be innovative and exciting. Welcome children and be like Disney. Or serve beer and wine and get funky, like Portland’s McMenamins.Staying alive is an epic 3-D quest for Clark County’s independent, historic movie houses. People get sentimental about venerable theaters for their classy feel and community history, but that doesn’t mean they prove their love with trips downtown and ticket sales. The formula has to be just right, local theater managers say, because the public is famously fickle and its multiplex habit is hard to break.