When Davidson's new movie theater opens, patrons will find more than just the typical blockbusters, popcorn and candy.
Concession stands will be stocked with locally made items, such as personal pizzas from Brickhouse Tavern. Auditorium seating will pair adjustable chairs with bistro tables made by a local cabinet maker. Schools, churches and civic groups, nonprofits and other businesses will be able to rent the space to host meetings or educational events.
Theater organizers also hope to form a film society to help determine the theater's programming, and they say Davidson eventually will host its own film festival.
The vision for Our Town Cinemas is the work of Curtis Fainn, 54, who will move to Davidson in November to oversee the final stages of renovation to two store fronts in the Sadler Square shopping center near Davidson College.
Scheduled to open by January 2010, the four-screen complex will seat 250 people in the 9,750-square-foot space.
"It (Davidson) has the perfect demographics for the type of cinema we are building," said Fainn, managing partner of Our Town Cinemas.
Programming will include first-run movies, but organizers also promise to deliver a mix of independent films and themed film series for different segments of the community.
"Forming alliances with local businesses, creating a community resource and establishing a film society are the main goals behind creating Our Town Cinemas," said Jan Black, the theater's director of marketing. "It's not just going to be a movie theater. It's going to be a community resource, and the community will have a voice in the programming."
Suzanne Churchill, a town resident and associate professor of English at Davidson College, is enthusiastic about the prospect of independent, foreign and art films being shown alongside mainstream blockbusters.
"I think a small college town like Davidson has the potential to generate a supportive audience for these kinds of films," she said. "Right now, if we want to see them, we have to go all the way to Charlotte. This theater will allow us to have a local option, and many of us could even walk or ride our bikes to the theater."
She also hopes college faculty can get involved and host "talkbacks" or question-and-answer sessions before or after films.
"I think the name, Our Town Cinemas, really captures the spirit of the initiative," she said. "I hope organizers will encourage community members of all ages to get involved so the theater can become part of the local culture."
John Anderson is a self-proclaimed movie junkie who was "schooled" in the British classic movies of the 1940s and 50s. He plans on being active in the proposed film society and said the theater will provide a cultural experience.
"There isn't anything like it in Davidson right now, and I think a lot of people see this as being an intimate addition to the community," he said. "The people putting it together seem interested in diversity, and I think if we can get (the film society) organized, we can bring in some interesting movies that aren't typically available in this area. The arts are alive and well in Davidson and that's one of the artistic endeavors that's currently not represented."
"Davidson has always been a model for development and our theater plans to be a model for bringing this kind of theater to other towns in North Carolina," said Black. "A theater is one of the businesses that can help revitalize downtown life in a community. However, Davidson already has a strong downtown life and we are just adding to it."