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'On with the Show': Royal 3 Cinema now open in Le Mars

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eric Hilsabeck, owner of the Royal 3 Cinema, in Le Mars, cuts the ribbon at a Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting in front of the theater Thursday. The cinema celebrated its June opening with activities throughout the day.
The Royal 3 Cinema in downtown Le Mars gives people a taste of today's technology mixed with flavors of the past.

It has all the amenities, from rocking chair seats to state-of-the art sound -- but at the same time greets people with lights on the marque kept from the original theater.

And that's something people such as Kim Clarey, of Le Mars, who attended a ribbon cutting during the Royal 3 Cinema's grand opening celebration Thursday, appreciate.

"It's unique," she said, of the lights. "You don't see that on different theaters. It identifies us."

Clarey said she's pleased with the new Royal 3 Cinema and the idea that Le Mars, again, has its own movie theater.

"I think it's awesome. I think Le Mars really needs a theater," Clarey said. "I grew up coming to the theater."

Continuing the community tradition of theater is what Eric Hilsabeck, owner of the Royal 3 Cinema, said he has in mind for the new Royal 3 -- with some improvements.

"We want to bring people out not just to see a movie, but to experience it," he said. "We want to start bringing the community back together like it was way back when the Royal (initially) opened."

The Royal Theater opened Sept. 14, 1914, in its current location, with seating for 600 people, according to the History of Plymouth County, Iowa, Vol. 1.

Hilsabeck said combining that flavor of the past with today's technology will provide movie-goers with an unique experience at the Royal 3 Cinema.

Along with the technology, when people step into the Royal 3 Cinema, they are greeted by a bright, shiny brand-new entryway with a concession area to the right.

Framed posters hang on the walls depicting current and upcoming movies.

Inside the three movie theater auditoriums are two rows of blue rocking chair seats separated by a lighted path ending at the widescreen in the front.

"This is really a beautiful project," said Larry Petersen, of Le Mars. "I'm impressed with it."

Gone is the dim lighting, reddish-orange stationary seats and occasionally temperamental movie projector of the Royal Theater.

A complete revamping of the theater, rather than remodeling, was necessary due to the extent of the building's structural damage, Hilsabeck said.

At the beginning of the project that extent was unknown, which added several obstacles, resulting in delays during construction, he said.

For example, more material needed to be torn out of the walls than expected, existing piping and electrical were more of a challenge and a pipe installed in the ground exploded, Hilsabeck said.

Now, other than waiting for menu boards to be delivered and installed and other small items, the Royal 3 Cinema is complete, he said.

"It's definitely a relief," Hilsabeck said. "This is probably one of the biggest projects I've ever taken on."

Construction difficulties along the way delayed the theater's opening several days, which in turn, had an impact on the business, he said.

"I think a lot of these little mishaps were extremely disappointing." he said. "It is kind of disappointing to people when we announce that we are opening, and we don't."

But, now that the Royal 3 Cinema is open for business, Hilsabeck said he hopes people will realize the value of having a theater in Le Mars, come out and see a movie.

"We're trying to provide Le Mars with one less thing people need to leave town for," he said.

Having that convenience is something both Petersen and Clarey said they are glad to have back.

"It's going to be great for the youth," Petersen said. "I'm going to bring my great grandchildren."

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Congratulations! I worked at both the cinema and the drive-in as a teen - great to see part of that memory restored.

-- Posted by indymrs on Mon, Jul 11, 2011, at 11:13 AM

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