Document Title Goes Here
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
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 villatheatre.com, 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