“People used to be afraid to go in there,” he said with a laugh.
Eugene’s first pub-style movie theater is celebrating its seven-year anniversary Friday. The event is right in time for the theater to unveil more than $3,000 worth of renovations, celebrate its first month as an all-ages theater, and prepare to become a first-run theater.
The David Minor Theater opened its doors as a second-run theater in 2008, fitting into a niche that soon lured dedicated patrons.
The theater shows films in two halls, Theater 1, which seats 50, and the Livingroom Theater, which seats 16.
Tickets range from $1 to $6.
Refreshment options include meals delivered from several Fifth Avenue restaurants, plus beer on tap, wine and, of course, buttered popcorn.
An ongoing campaign
The recent changes started with the help of a GoFundMe account.
On July 16, Goldfarb put out a call to the community for assistance, a necessity in order to bring new life to the theater. He asked for $20,000 to cover an update to the sound systems, some building maintenance and new projection equipment.
One of the first donations came from John and Susan Minor, whose deceased son, David Minor, is the theater’s namesake. Minor was killed in 2008, at age 27, when his bike collided head-on with a car on a downtown street corner.
The Minors donated the largest amount to date, $2,000, to get the campaign off the ground. Several weeks later, a total of $3,645 had been received from 17 different donors.
However, the donations did wane after the first month, and the theater fell short of the goal by more than $16,355.
“I’m really appreciative for what we did get, but we were hoping for a little more group effort,” Goldfarb said.
But despite the setback, the theater moved forward with plans to upgrade. As well as maintaining the building, the theater brought in a new popcorn machine and planned for a new awning.
At the same time, Goldfarb decided to make another long-awaited change: to open the theater up to all ages. In the past, the local movie house had been restricted to those 21 and older due to its pub atmosphere.
Several years after the David Minor Theater opened, the Oregon Liquor and Control Commission added another type of permit for theaters. It allows them to serve alcohol while admitting minors.
The new permit Goldfarb acquired is identical to those used by the national theater chains. It allows the theater to bring in all ages for the first two evening show times.
The change kicked in Oct. 1.
“We’ve already been seeing younger people,” Goldfarb said.
Running with the big boys
Goldfarb soon decided to take the next step and purchase a new digital projection system to add first-run movies to the traditional second-run films. Goldfarb said the equipment upgrade will give the theater an option to run with national heavyweights, Cinemark and Regal, that are in the Eugene-Springfield area.
Theater spokesman Jason Randall will be handling the movie bookings for new releases.
“We’re compiling a list of films we’d like to have,” he said.
Because Regal and Cinemark have several exclusivity agreements with film distributors, David Minor Theater might be restricted from screening certain new movies.
“So we will have to check and make sure we can screen some of the movies,” Randall said.
At the upcoming anniversary event, the theater will use the new projection system to show summer hit “Jurassic World.” The theater already has been selling the $3 tickets for the event and is offering a 2-for-1 deal if they’re bought in advance.
Goldfarb said the new updates are just the beginning for the local theater. And in the end, he hopes recent changes give the business more of an advantage.
“Our pricing is already a little lower than competitors. And when we bring in the new releases, we plan to keep it that way.”