Canyon, TX - After 65 years of business, the Varsity Theatre in Canyon is closing its doors.
Management at the theater said it is losing its battle with technology and it can no longer make enough money to stay open. This has some residents upset.
"I grew up with that theater," said Canyon resident Gretchen Mercer. "My dad took me to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when it first came out. I was probably 3 or 4. I had my first kiss in the balcony of that theater."
Despite being a landmark of Canyon, theater manager Garry Cathey said he can't afford to keep it open. With the dying of 35 millimeter film, the theater needs a digital projector in order to bring popular movies to Canyon, and that's not all.
"We not only need a projector, but we need wiring, we need plumbing, we need to kind of revamp the theater, the restrooms. There's several things that need to be addressed before we can open back up," said Cathey. He estimates the upgrades to cost about $100,000.
Canyon City Manager Randy Criswell said the city could fund part of the upgrades under certain circumstances. "The Economic Development Corporation can potentially help fund improvements for a business," said Criswell. "Number one, the application must be submitted by the owner of the property and that owner must also be willing to put some skin in the game. They have to have some money that goes in too. Typically what the EDC does is provide up to a matching amount of some amount. But unfortunately, it's my understanding the owner doesn't have any interest in spending any money on the theater."
Cathey said the property owner can't afford the upgrades either. "He would like to keep the theater open," explained Cathey. "But he's reluctant to spend a lot of money on it because there's no return. I don't make a return on the theater and he makes very little return on the theater. So it's going to take the community to keep the theater open."
He said many residents have talked about a fundraiser, but nothing has been set in stone. Cathy plans to close the theater next month, but said with enough community support, there's still a chance it could stay open. "I think it's a big possibility. I really didn't think there were that many people who were that concerned with the fate of the theater. But evidently, there are a lot of people who want to keep it open."