POST FALLS - Post Falls Theater hopes cheap admission prices will bring families back to the movies and boost business.
Starting Friday, the 17-year-old, locally-owned theater will convert to a discount cinema from a "first-run" format.
Prices will drop from the $7-$9 range to $2 for everyone and $1 on Wednesdays. The movies will be those that have been shown for a few months at "first-run" theaters or older popular flicks.
"It was a major decision," said Julius Vichinsky, an owner of the theater. "I never wanted to go that route, but at the end of the day it's best for everyone involved.
"We're making prices shockingly low in hopes that people turn out. We know that a lot of people can't afford to go to the movies right now.
The theater, which has six show areas, will be similar to the discount Garland in Spokane, but with lower prices.
"We'll be the least expensive theater in the area," Vichinsky said. "We kept focusing on a family of five. They can come to the movies, get a large popcorn and something to drink for $20."
Local resident Wes Hamrick is among those who support the change due to how expensive going to the movies has gotten. Seeing a movie right away also isn't critical to him.
"I am a grandparent who would like to take the grandkids to a G-rated movie every couple of weeks, but it's too expensive," Hamrick said.
Vichinsky said it has been difficult to compete as a first-run theater and converting to digital production would cost about $800,000.
He said the movie industry as a whole is down about 30 percent in recent years and Post Falls has struggled like many theaters.
"Things have been super tight the past 3-4 years," he said. "We've been on the verge of going this way for awhile now."
Vichinsky believes the move is what's best for the community, especially during the recession.
"I can't let go of the fact that we're here to serve the public," he said. "I'd rather see the theater go out on a positive giving note than not seeing us change our focus. I am proud to say that we have never sacrificed the quality of our service, the commitment to our community or the caliber of our character for profit."
Concession prices were also recently lowered. For example, a large popcorn now runs $5 compared to the industry standard $7.
The theater will not have midnight showings as a discount cinema, but will re-evaluate it in 2012 and may consider showing some classics at that time, Vichinsky said.
Vichinsky hopes the community will embrace the change.
"Everybody likes to see a movie when it first comes out, but the movie business was always supposed to be volume-based," he said. "Hopefully the lower prices will raise volume, be good for business and make it easier for mom and dad to bring their family to a movie, especially during the holidays."
POST FALLS - Christmas has arrived early for movie-goers.
Post Falls Theater will offer free movies on Saturday.
"We're doing this as a special way to say thanks - no trickery or strings attached," said owner Julius Vichinsky.
Seating will be on a first-come, first serve basis. No reserved tickets or credits will be issued. Doors will open at 9:15.
"Dolphin Tale" starts at 10:30 a.m., "Kung Fu Panda II" 10:15 a.m. "The Help" 10:05 a.m. and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" at 10:20 a.m. Those movies will be shown throughout the day at various times.
Vichinsky hopes attendees will buy concessions during the free movies as a way to offset some of the cost.
"We're hoping this gives families an opportunity to come to the movies and it doesn't stretch their pocketbook this time of year," he said.
Here is Friday's lineup at Post Falls Theater to kick off the discount format and Saturday's free community day:
* "Dolphin Tale," PG, 12:45, 3, 5:20, 7:35
* "Kung Fu Panda II," PG, 12:10, 2, 3:50, 5:40, 7:30,
* "The Help," PG-13, 1, 4, 7
* "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," PG-13, 12:50, 3:05, 5:25 and 7:45
Same times and movies on Friday, plus the following:
* "Dolphin Tale," 10:30 a.m.
* "Kung Fu Panda II," 10:15 a.m.
* "The Help," 10:05 a.m.
* "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," 10:20 a.m.