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"We couldn't get anything," Roberts says. "We couldn't get Paranormal Activity. We got Taken 2 because it was a bigger movie. And it wasn't a huge movie for us. It was like, crap — we just got here and we don't know our audience yet.
"We were running, like, a second-run theater," he adds. "A lot of times, we'd have to wait until an AMC that was still on film ran it for two weeks in three theaters and didn't need two prints anymore. So we'd get it two weeks later."
And by then, the film had made all the money that it was going to make.
The Kickstarter exceeded its $20,000 goal; 587 backers, including actor and director Matthew Lillard, donated $30,231.
"It was totally worth it," Roberts says of the digital upgrade. "It does sound better. It does look clearer. It is brighter. I love film, but digital is what everyone is used to now."
And it has helped business.
"There were times, for sure, before digital, where there were zero dollars rung in," Roberts says. He recalls Hansel & Gretel turning Armour into a "ghost town." Now, he says, "that never happens."
But on May 17, Screenland took another hit. The Crossroads theater (1656 Washington) closed, following a dispute with its landlord, who wanted to triple the theater's rent. Rigby vowed to open another location, but the where and the when were fuzzy.
"I certainly pondered the possibility that there might not be the Screenland name on a screen for some time," Rigby admits of the brand's earlier woes. "I always knew that we could figure out a way to get the Armour digitized. And, fortunately, Adam and Brent made that a much quicker reality. Also, fortunately, I don't ever want to forget that we have a terrific operator of the Screenland Crown Center.
"I knew we'd figure a way to keep Screenland out there," Rigby continues. "At one point out of the 10 years did I imagine Screenland as a large circuit, maybe. But what I really envisioned it as, was just part of the Kansas City landscape."
Rigby says he's content to manage the Screenland name and its real estate while leaving the day-to-day operations to others.
"It's hard to meet a great movie nut like all of us and be an extraordinary businessperson," Rigby says. But he feels that he has found both in Roberts and Miller. "They love the movies, which they have to, and they're really quite extraordinary in their business acumen."
And Rigby believes that Roberts and Miller can lead the brand's future Crossroads location.
"I feel confident in their ability to handle two locations," Rigby says. "This will be their show to run."
The next Screenland Crossroads location will be "in the heart of the Crossroads," Roberts says. Roberts, Miller and Rigby don't want to give away the exact location until the paperwork is finalized. But they say the next Screenland Crossroads will open in 2014. And Roberts and Miller are going to build the new location almost from the ground up.
"It's four walls right now," Roberts says. "It was never a theater."
The plan is to put art-house, indie and retro pictures into two smaller auditoriums. But they also want to book live events: trivia and music and comedy shows. And, of course, they mean to serve good beer on draft — more of it, they say, than any other place in the Crossroads.
"Our idea down there is to have close to a hundred draft beers," Roberts says. "Our food is going to be very different, too. It's going to be a very West Coast wrap or burrito-type stuff."
But don't expect to see servers in the theater.
"I'm not crazy about servers in theaters," Roberts says. "No matter how hard they try, it's still distracting. What we've talked about is in-service only until the previews start."
Roberts says the Crossroads theater should fill the hole left by the last Screenland's shuttering.
"That's what we're pushing: 'Hey, we're the original cinema badasses. We're the renegades in Kansas City. We'll do whatever. We'll show whatever. You suggest a movie to us; if it's good and we can get it, we'll absolutely show it here,' " Roberts says.
"That's a beauty of having a small local theater. We can do what we want."