SOUDERTON — Fourteen years after the screen went to white and the Broad Theater closed, it reopened Saturday, Nov. 28.
Attendees the following day included Telford residents Josh and Kim Meyer.
"We grew up coming here, so it's kind of fun for us to be here," Kim Meyer said.
This was the first time daughters 6-year-old Selah and 4-year-old Eve were ever seeing a movie in a theater, the Meyers said.
"They get to see their favorite movie, 'Frozen,'" Kim Meyer said.
Other movies being shown that day were "The Croods: A New Age," "Let Him Go," "Elf" and "Gremlins."
The newly-renovated Broad has three theaters, including two on the first floor that each have 136 seats and one on the second floor with 51 seats, said Kyle Hoff, who, with Charles Crown, bought the theater in 2018.
"I've been dreaming about it for years, so seeing it come to fruition is very fulfilling," Hoff said of the opening.
"We had several sold out shows," he said, "but with Covid, our capacity's really reduced, so a sold out show during Covid is not really a sold out show."
Social distancing is ensured in the theater by the seating system blocking off seats around each separate household, Angela Penneylane, the theater's general manager, said. The theaters are disinfected with a mist cleaner between shows, she said.
First-run, independent and classic movies will be shown at the theater, Hoff said.
"The film studios are not releasing a lot of new content right now, so we're playing the new movies when we can get them," he said, "and then we're also playing a lot of the holiday movies that people love to get them out and give them something fun that they can do and feel safe and look forward to doing."
Although people can also watch movies at home, it's not the same, he said.
"Even if you have good surround sound, it's not gonna be anywhere near as enjoyable as watching it on a 30-foot screen with Dolby sound 7.1, massive amplifiers, four 18-inch subwoofers," Hoff said. "The movie experience is unrivaled."
He said he's got "a very long list" of movies he's looking forward to showing.
One of the movies people often recall seeing at the Broad and ask about seeing again is "Titanic."
"It's under the Disney umbrella," Hoff said.
"We can't play that whenever we want. We have to wait for them to release it from their vault," he said, "but when it is available, we will play it."
Movie tickets can be ordered online, which is what almost all the customers the first weekend did, Penneylane said. Walk-ins are also available unless tickets are sold out, she said.
The theater's website, which includes showtimes and through which tickets may be purchased, is broadtheater.com.
The theater has state of the art technology in the projection room, Penneylane said.
Hard drives from the film companies are uploaded into the theater's servers, she said.
"It's got a schedule in there that matches what we put online and then it just starts playing them when it's time," Penneylane said.
The theater at W. Broad Street and Washington Avenue initially opened in 1922. Hoff, who has restored other buildings in the area including the ones in which Broad Street Grind in Souderton, Popcorn Works and The Smoke Factory BBQ in Telford, and the District Judge office in Harleysville are located, said redoing the Broad wasn't as difficult as some of the other buildings have been. The original brick remains and a former owner put a new roof on, so that did not need to be replaced, he said. Windows and woodwork were added, he said.
Freewill Brewing, of Perkasie, will soon be opening a taproom in the lobby of the theater, he said.
The theater is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays, but that probably won't be the permanent schedule, Penneylane said.
"As with all Covid things, everything's subject to change at any time," she said.
The theater has 14 employees, two full-time and the other dozen part-time, Hoff and Penneylane said.
An official grand opening will be held later, they said.
Asked if there had been any surprises with the opening weekend, Hoff said there was not.
"Any time you do anything new, you're always nervous," he said.
"Are we crazy for opening a movie theater during a pandemic? Probably," he said, "but we sold out, so it was like, wow, alright, maybe we did the right thing."
Some of those coming to the theater said they used to come there on dates, he said.
"We've even had repeat customers already," Penneylane said. Someone who came on Saturday returned on Sunday to see a different movie, she said.
People commenting on social media about the theater's reopening gave good reviews, Hoff said.
"I didn't get a single complaint from anybody about anything," Penneylane said.
"I didn't either," Hoff said.