Let's All Go To The Movies!
The aroma of popcorn. It's the first thing that hits you when you walk into the door at Beacon Theatre in Waveland, Mississippi. It's like a brick wall that stops you dead in your tracks and forces you into a montage of nostalgic cinematic experiences. This theater was the catalyst in my rediscovery of movie-going.
“Has is really been that long?” I asked myself as I walked to the ticket booth.
“It's been ten years since I've been to a movie,” I said to the woman in the window. I felt like I was visiting a close old friend that I hadn't seen in years but who didn't live that far away. I was half-ashamed of myself and wholly thrilled to be there.
I started researching the movie and fell in love with the fact that it was shot on 70mm film -- definitely not the standard these days. So I switched back to see how it was being screened at the Beacon only to find that they didn't even have a digital projector.
Now, anyone who has ever taken a film class will always have a special place in their heart for real film. I equate it to vinyl records. There are a lot of us out there who prefer the analog sound quality of LPs over digital formats like mp3s and whatever else these days.
35mm film has been used as the industry standard for over 120 years, and we’re seeing less and less shot on real film every year. In fact, it's on the brink of extinction. By the end of this year, it just won't be used anymore. Only 6 percent of movie theaters in this country are employing 35mm projectors, and the Beacon Theater in our very own Waveland is one of them!
He knows all there is to know about the business. He also knows that to stay in business, he's got to change with the times.
“We're being forced to go digital,” he explained. “I'd like to see the 35mm continue. I always say, ‘If it ain't broke, don't fix it.’”
I'm with him on that. I'd love to see it continue as well. He explained to me the high costs of the new digital projectors and the outrageous expenses of maintaining them. We all know the old stuff always sustains itself better through the ages.
Watzke has done a wonderful job of restoring this theater and revamping its reputation. Everything from the hand-crafted woodwork to the cool copper penny countertops rings of hard work. He's put a lot of heart into this place, and it shows.
Watching patrons leaving happy, seeing more and more cars in the parking lot when we arrive for a movie, and the fact the owner took the time to share so much about his extremely interesting career instills in me an inextinguishable faith that this business will thrive here. So, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets!
Things to look for and forward to at the Beacon:
- First-run movies
- An upstairs lounge area with bar and TV screen
- Free admission for select family movies
- Screening of Rocky Horror Picture show on the last Friday of every month
- WINsdays: Wednesday screenings with an opportunity to win free tickets
- Monthly Film Fest
- Sci-Fi Saturdays
- Classic Movie Screenings
Fun facts about Charles Watzke:
- His favorite movie moment was seeing Olivia Newton John in “Grease.”
- He's restored numerous theaters in the Southeast, including drive-ins in Florida and Hattiesburg, MS. He even restored a 1916-era theater in Palatka, Fl.
- He had a snowball stand in front of the A&G Theater in the late ’70s.
- He was the projectionist at the Starr Theatre in 1969.
- He installed projectors at the Choctaw Cinema 4 (which is now the Beacon).