Movies return to town Friday

FAIRMONT – “Yes!! Yes!! Yes!! Can’t wait!!” wrote one enthusiastic Fairmont Theatre fan on the venue’s Facebook page.

There’s no doubt excitement is building as the theater prepares for its grand opening this weekend.

It’s been a long time coming.

The venue has been closed since August 2012, due to the huge cost of upgrading to digital projectors and much-needed renovations to the building.

Leading up to opening day on Friday, the newly named Fairmont Theatre remained a work in progress, but if all goes as planned, four of five screens will show movies this weekend.

Slated for the debut is “Divergent,” an action-adventure film rated PG-13; DreamWorks Animations’ “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” rated PG; “Son of God,” about the life of Jesus Christ, rated PG-13; and George Clooney’s “Monuments’ Men,” rated PG-13.

The theater’s fifth screen will be in use in the future. But for opening week, owner Todd Frager is playing it safe, in order to have a fifth screen to fall back on.

Frager, based in Sioux Falls, has been in the theater business 33 years. He owns four movie complexes, including Fairmont Theatre.

“The digital conversion has been difficult in all of the theaters – it’s still pending at two of them,” Frager said. “The digital conversion was a challenge to all small towns.”

He credits his presence in Fairmont to Mike Humpal with the city of Fairmont, First Farmers & Merchants Bank and building owner Brian Pellowski. As the tenant, Frager owns everything inside the building and pays rent to the owner.

Part of the lease agreement includes terms to replace the roof, as soon as weather permits.

“There’s still more that we want to do,” Frager said. “The priority was making a deal and then getting the theater open.”

The digital upgrades are complete, but major renovations will take time. The end goal is to completely redo the facility. How fast that happens depends on how good business is, Frager said.

Ticket prices will be $8 for adults, $5 for children, and $5 for matinees. Tuesdays, too, will be $5 – film-company permitting.

Concession pricing will be moderate in comparison to Twin Cities’ venues, but not discount-theater cheap.

“We’re really excited about Fairmont. We’re really excited about the theater,” said Frager, speaking for himself and manager Jamie Fries. “Everybody we’ve worked with in town has been great.”

For more information on movies and times, call (507) 235-3080 or go online to www.fairmonttheatre.com