Ken Leighton 11 a.m., May 20
Popcorn Fan, 12, Saves Historic Movie House!
Dateline: Inside Coronado Village Theater. At popcorn stand.
Subject: Graham. Will Graham.
Role: Savior of the Coronado Village Theatre.
"True," says Lance Alspaugh, the L.A.-based Vintage Cinemas guy who made this happen, too, and just happens to be standing nearby. (The theater reopened last night — see Matthew Lickona’s blog in Big Screen — to much hand-clapping and popcorn-roasting. You could smell that all the way up the avenue.)
"Two years ago, this then-10-year-old kid was on the internet,” Alspaugh says, “searching about theaters, and found our website. We were looking for an investor. He was ten. He thought we would be a good investment. He pitched his dad. To invest in us. It’s amazing. I never had to go look for the funding. It came to us.”
The kid speaks up.
“What I did, Will says, "was actually unite Mr. Lance Alspaugh and my dad John Graham. He is a real estate developer in Arizona. We spend about a fourth of our time in Coronado. Coronado is my home away from home, and seeing these doors shut and locked up, it really wasn’t what this theater was supposed to be doing. It was supposed to be open. And I wanted to see that happen.
“I pursued that by chastising my dad because he has been coming to the island for 45 years. I said, ‘Dad, you know this since when it was practically brand new. I know you want to see this open. And so do I. Why don’t we try and open it?’
“He didn’t really want to do it. But my mom made contact with [Lance Alspaugh], and it started from there. My dad invested $300,000 to pay for the furniture, pictures, and equipment.
"Dad and I came every month to check progress. We got to choose some of the landmarks that would [be painted on] the wonderful murals. I personally asked for the Coronado Boathouse restaurant because they’ve been in Coronado I believe from 1887.
"When I grow up I would like to work in the redevelopment area. This theater exceeds my expectations a thousand times. Dad’s very proud of me.”
But, really, why did he do it?
“I did it because the movies are part of Americana. And there’s nothing like fresh-baked theater popcorn.”
(Whew. Food blog. Just barely.)
Opening Night ticket. Free popcorn!
Will Graham, standing in front of major theater food source
Where to eat your popcorn