Kamas Theater remains dormant after five months
May 26, 2015
The Kamas Theater stopped operations last December and has stood empty since.
The closure came after a disagreement between owner John Crandall and tenants Kevin and Sharee Harris, who began running the theater in 2011.
Crandall said he has some opportunities he’s looking at but nothing set in stone.
"We’re kind of in the middle of things, so I’m not quite sure of what’s going to happen," Crandall said during an interview with The Park Record. "In a month or so, I might have some more information of what we’re planning to do."
Kamas Mayor Lew Marchant also spoke with The Park Record and said Crandall hasn’t approached Kamas City about any new developments.
"I’m really at a loss to what to tell you," Marchant said. "[The theater] is a privately owned facility and it’s nothing that the city has control over, other than approving what happens in there."
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Marchant said he hopes the theater will be up and running sometime soon.
"We miss it," he said. "I grew up with it as a youngster."
Throughout its years of operation, the Kamas Theater has screened everything from "It’s a Wonderful Life" and "The Wizard of Oz" to "Star Wars" and "Sherlock Holmes."
Although Marchant can’t remember the first film he saw in the theater, he does remember how terrified he was when he saw "The Wizard of Oz."
"That left an impression on me because the witch scared me to death," he said with a laugh. "I spent most of my time on the floor hiding."
The Kamas Theater is home to many colorful memories.
The 283-seat movie house, located at 30 N. Main St., was built in 1942 to replace the Kamas Opera House that burned down, according to the Summit County Historical Society.
It served Northern Summit County until 1999, when competition from video rentals shut the theater down for two years.
In 2003, the Sundance Film Festival utilized the theater for some of its screenings and the Kamas Theater began screening commercial films as well.
From 2011 to earlier this year, the theater was run and managed by Kevin and Sharee Harris, who were instrumental in making many upgrades including new seats and a heated floor.
In the fall of 2012, the Harrises called the Sundance Film Festival to see if it was interested in screening more film-festival films.
"We were informed they wouldn’t be screening films here because we weren’t digital, meaning we didn’t have a digital projector," Harris told The Park Record in 2012. "It shocked us, but it seems that’s what’s been happening everywhere, because the (movie) studios have informed us that within a year, they won’t be making movies in the 33mm format, so we have to become digital if we’re going to be able to serve Kamas."
After 2½ years of fundraising that included bake sales, concerts, art auctions and theatrical performances by students at the Uinta Conservatory (which is now located in Hurricane), the Harrises and Kamas City were able to purchase at digital projector for a $45,000 digital projector.
The city filed for and received a $35,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which paid for the bulk of the projector, according to Marchant.
An RBEG provides funds for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses, he said.
Although the Kamas Theater’s future seemed secure, less than a year later, the theater closed its doors.
"Kamas City does own the projector because we did file for a grant on behalf of [the Harrises]," Marchant said. "So, now it’s up to what John wants to do."
Katharine Wang, executive director of the Park City Film Series, said some members in the Kamas community have approached her, asking if the nonprofit art-house organization would be interested in purchasing the Kamas Theater.
At this point, there isn’t any way for the Park City Film Series to even consider running the venue.
"From the Film Series side, we would be supportive and would love to help the Kamas Theater get back on its feet, but as far as us taking it over, that’s something that I can’t comment on," Wang said. "We would be supportive of having a theater there and we would see it as more of a way to service the community better and have a spot to screen movies."
The Park City Film Series did screen "Slaying the Badger," John Dower’s cycling documentary about Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault at the Kamas Theater last summer.
"It was great to have a theater out there and we wanted to so some more, but then it closed," Wang said. "Having a proper theater is a benefit for the community, not only on the entertainment side, but also for special events."
A few months ago, the Park City Film Series expanded its children’s programming and its Books 2 Movies program into the Summit County Library Kimball Junction, Kamas and Coalville branches.
Wang said working with a theater in Kamas would be great for these types of screenings.
"If the Kamas Theater was up and running, there would be a possibility to use that space in partnership with whomever is running the theater," she said.
For more information about the Books 2 Movies program, go to: www. facebook.com/ParkCityFilmSeries