Villa Theatre
3092 Highland Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah


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In the late winter / spring of 2002, Carmike Cinemas spent some money to make repairs on the Villa.  The carpet was cleaned, some damaged sheetrock in the ticket booth was repaired and covered with carpeting, missing seats in the auditorium were replaced. Later Carmike rented a dumpster and employees cleared out the area behind the screen and on the stage, which had become a dumping-ground for equipment from other closed Carmike theaters.

In February 2002, Carmike closed the Cottonwood Mall theater, which probably opened the way for the Villa to sell to Harmons without a covenenant on it restricting its use as a theater.

In May 2002, Carmike Cinemas ran an ad for just the Villa Theatre and Star Wars: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones.  The theater showed no showings on the day before and opened up at 9 PM to let moviegoers in for the midnight showing.  For a while prints of Lord of the Rings and Attack of the Clones sat on the platter system.  Channel 4 came out and did a news story, reporting that seating was still available. People were able to walk into the theater up until the showing started. People would drive up and go to the box office.  After finding out that tickets were still available, they would get on their cell phones and call others.  There were four employees and one manager at the door to take tickets, four or so employees at the concession stand, and one employees just monitoring the crowds in the auditorium.  Every assistant manager the theater had seemed to be working that night.

Despite the success of Attack of the Clones at the Villa, the theater was still for sale.  A realty web site listed the property as the "former Villa theater for sale".

Rumors that Wal-Mart would buy the Villa, with the theater closing in the beginning of 2003, began as early as July 2002.  Harmons Grocery, which owns a grocery store nearby, bought the Villa to block a possible sale to Wal-Mart.  A move which may have saved the Villa from demolition.

Prints of Harry Potter seem to come to the Villa with curses attached.  Like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone the year before, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the Villa was frought with technical problems.  When the previews for the very first showing started there was obviously something wrong with the sound.  Just before the last preview was to begin, employees shut the projector down for several minutes, but when it started up again the problem got worse.  The movie began and the sound was still warbling, but then the projector shut down a few times.  Some patrons shouted for their money back.  Finally the film started rolling again and the sound was OK - but in 4-channel analog instead of 6-channel Dolby Digital.  The sound system wasn't balanced properly either, so that most of the sound and dialog came from the right side of the screen.  It turned out that the Dolby Digital reader had a broken sprocket and could no longer be used.  Carmike responded quickly, adding a DTS reader to the projector within a couple days. They neglected, however, to remove the defective Dolby Digital unit, and apparently some employees continued to thread the film through the defective unit, causing even more breaks in the film to the point where some short segments of the film were missing completely. That print was eventually replaced.

There was a line party at the Villa for The Two Towers.

Before the midnight showing of The Two Towers a manager called a couple down to the front of the auditorium.  The man then got down on his knees and proposed.

In the week before we knew the Villa would close, Grant Smith, who maintains, got an e-mail from a film collector who was looking for a well-preserved movie theater to buy.  He had several questions about the Villa.  After getting his last e-mail from the film collector, Grant Smith went home for the weekend. On Monday morning he found an e-mail from a former Villa employee with the subject line "Farewell".

Next, Harmons Buys the Villa