Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Villa Theatre owners making most of down time with new projector and seating


The installation of the new projector at the Villa Theatre last week.

Many changes have and continue to occur at Malta Villa Theatre, but perhaps the most important change at the storied moviehouse is the doors will reopen for film viewing on Friday, May 22 after months of being closed dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

In November of last year, the Villa reopened with new seating, a new concession stand, new bathrooms after closing that summer and management and eventually ownership changed as Greg and Jan Kirkwood purchased the nearly 65-year old Phillips County landmark. Just as things got rolling at the Villa, social-distancing due to the COVID-19 virus shut down most of Montana, and the theatre was shut down in March.

But now, nearly two months later, the Villa Theatre is set to re-open yet again, and like last time, with some new changes, first of which is a brand-new movie projector. Greg Kirkwood said the camera that was purchased in 2014 (in part with donated money) was not in great shape when purchased and needed to be replaced.

"The new machine we are getting is called a Christie and is manufactured in North America," he said. "We are getting a 2016 model, still has two years left on the warranty and has a price tag of $40,000."

The new projector was installed three weeks ago and has been sitting idle since then, awaiting Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's word that theatres may re-open. But due to the COVID-19 virus, the movie times, at least for a while will change to:

Last chance Thursdays: 7 p.m.

Fridays: 7 p.m.

Saturdays: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Sunday's: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

"We will be showing 'Midway' for all at 7 p.m. this week," Angel Kent said. "Then we will show "Lorax" for all 2 p.m. showings."

Kent said at this time, the Villa is only able to fill 50-percent of their capacity, and people will need to stay six- feet apart as best they can.

New lodge seating in the Villa.

"We will have hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves available. We have removed the middle showing on Saturday and Sunday to give us time to fully sanitize between each show," she said, adding that, "At this time there is only a very limited selection of movies available. Until there are new releases available again we have to work with what we have."

Another change at the Villa Theatre will be the staff that operates it, some old and some new. Angel and her husband, Logan, are now managers at the Villa and Elijah Hawes has stayed on as an employee. New employees at the theatre are Vanessa Mann, Kandace Oshio, Lavida Grotte-Dalby, and Steve Ickowski.

"We are all excited to get the Villa reopened for movies," Kent said. "It was wonderful being able to open to sell concessions and then to play music from our new outside PA system, but we are looking forward to getting movies played here again so we hope everyone else is and comes out to see us."


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