Save The Met: New Life For Mountain Movie Theater?
OAKHURST, Calif. (KMPH) —
For James Nelson, Matt Sconce and Keith Walker, being at the Met Cinema in Oakhurst is like taking a trip down memory lane.
"This was the kind of thing my dad and I did. There wasn't a lot of things that we did together, but it was always kind of a movie thing," Nelson said.
"I grew up here. My first date was in this theater. I think a lot of ours was," Sconce joked.
"I think movies play a role in kids' lives. And this is where I saw every movie as a kid," Walker said.
For years, the Met was the only game in town.
The next closest theater is in Fresno, about 50 miles away.
"In Oakhurst there wasn't much to do for children growing up. The movie theater was one of the hot spots for that. After school they'd come watch movies," Sconce said.
But just like an old Hitchcock film, appreciation for what was there faded over the years.
Soon the cinema fell on hard times. And it closed its doors November 1st.
"When we heard the movie theater was closed everybody was in shock, I was in shock. We didn't see it coming and we didn't know how bad things had gotten," Sconce said.
"The economy in general dropped. And the theater is normally a seasonal kind of thing. People would come often during the summer time or the winter time. And it's just difficult for a theater to maintain when they still have to pay the bills every month," Nelson said.
But James, Matt and Keith won't let the Met go down without a fight.
"Now there's a gaping hole in the life of all the people who never had it. My daughter who is four-years-old and my son who is two, what are they going to have when they grow up," Sconce said.
"This was my theater that I grew up in, watching all my favorite movies. Who else is going to do it?" Nelson said.
So the Oakhurst natives came up with a plan.
They set up a corporation, called "Movie Heroes Incorporated", that will rely on monthly memberships people can buy to watch unlimited movies at the Met.
"We will have new releases; we'll definitely be a new release theater. But we also, because it's a membership model, have the option to have some old release family movies playing in theater one or something like that for the family during the day. We might be able to have John Wayne week in theater three. And if you show up with your cowboy hat on you get a free popcorn, things like that," Sconce said.
All they need now is for the community to fill the seats.
"This is going to be a community theater. This is their theater. So it's really going to come down to, if they want it to be here or not," Nelson said.
"This isn't one of those things where a few people can sign up for this and people can try it later. Because if people don't sign up the doors aren't going to open," Walker said.
In order to make this happen, the guys need to have 20% of the entire mountain community signed up for memberships within the next few weeks.
No one will be charged until when and if the doors open, which is planned to be January 1st.
The deadline to get memberships is December 31st, but the group says it really needs people to sign up within the next couple of weeks.
To find out more or to buy a membership, check out the group's website at Savethemet.com.