Strand Theatre signs new lease, books new programs

Published 3:26 pm Friday, May 21, 2021

It’s been more than a year since the last curtain call at the Strand Theatre on Clay Street in downtown Vicksburg, but the silver screen will soon be shining once again.

After the sale of the Adolph Rose building was finalized, operator Daniel Boone said the fate of the Strand was unknown for a while. Since then, the Strand and the Westside Theatre Foundation have reached a lease agreement with the building’s new owners and are prepared for a fresh run of shows. However, the decision to reopen was not without much thought and hesitation.

“When the pandemic started, what we thought was, ‘We’re in better shape than most people to weather it, because we’re not making a living from this.’ This is really a pastime for me and for Jack (Burns, of Westside Theatre Foundation), and we have other volunteers who do different aspects of things, but we’re the ones who make the movies happen,” Boone said. “Then, when we have this issue of new owners … so much of this pandemic, we sailed into this mist. Things are different.”

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its lingering after-effects, Boone said the Strand and Westside Theatre Foundation have taken their time to determine the most effective way to safely reopen. Navigating new social protocols has been an issue of great importance, Boone said.

As part of Art House Convergence, Boone said the other priority in his mind was the safety of the Strand’s target audience.

“In a movie theater, it’s not unusual that you sit touching someone you don’t know. People don’t do that anymore,” Boone said. “When the whole project started, and for Art House in general, the most natural Art House audience are people in my age group: Baby Boomers.

“Yes, most of that audience has been vaccinated. But are they ready to go into a movie theater? This remains to be seen.”

To alleviate some concerns moviegoers might have, Boone said seating at the theater will be limited and organized into pods, so attendees can sit with their party and still keep their distance from others. Every detail has been discussed, down to the best method for serving popcorn.

“We’re still arguing over the popcorn,” Boone said. “That’s been a thing people have been excited about in the past, that we have popcorn and it’s free, and it smells so good. They love the popcorn, but are people ready to consume it? We’ll find out those details, and find out what percentage of people are interested in coming to a movie theater. That is the central question.”

For those interested in going to the movies, Boone has assembled what he described as a typical six-week run of shows. The Strand will begin its run with the 2021 film “Los Hermanos” on Saturday, May 29 at 7 p.m. Next will be a screening of the classic film “Fargo,” to honor its 25th anniversary, on Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m.

The following week, Boone has scheduled the art film “Frida Kahlo: Exhibition on Screen” Saturday June 12 at 7 p.m., followed by Romanian road trip comedy “Two Lottery Tickets” on Saturday, June 26 at 7 p.m.

The Strand’s lineup will conclude with Oscar winner “Promising Young Woman” on Saturday, July 3 at 7 p.m., and “Bringing Up Baby,” on Saturday, July 10 at 7 p.m. The final showing is sponsored by John and Lisa Martin.

“Promising Young Woman” won this year’s Oscar for best original screenplay. It was nominated for four other awards, including best picture.

“What I try to do with the Strand is, give people something they haven’t heard about, entice them to get them to come to the theater and give them something to talk about,” Boone said. “Art fans and art lovers are going to love to see this Frida Kahlo film, in particular.”

Admission for all films is $10, except for the Frida Kahlo film, which has a $12 ticket price. Boone encouraged attendees to purchase tickets in advance either online at strandvicksburg.com or a week in advance at the Highway 61 Coffee House located at 1101 Washington Street.