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THV in your Town: Puttin' on the Ritz in Malvern | News

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THV in your Town: Puttin' on the Ritz in Malvern

MALVERN, Ark. (KTHV) - In downtown Malvern, a small town theater is trying to keep the past alive. According to owner Marla Nix, it's the second oldest movie theater operating in state of Arkansas.

The Ritz Theater opened in 1938. In 1947, a fire did $125,000 worth of damage. It was an astronomical figure at the time, but a year later it reopened and has been playing Hollywood hits ever since.

"This was my second job...I've been here for 32 years now" says Nix.

Once part of a national theater group, it was sold in favor of larger cities with multiplex theaters. Marla nix and her husband Marty bought the Ritz to keep it open for the community.

"When the only industry for entertainment leaves, the community usually suffered, and I didn't want to see Malvern suffer. I wanted to see the town that I was raised in continue to thrive."

The Ritz Theater may have modern digital projectors, but Nix still tries to keep it as close to original as possible, from the original bathroom signs, the original tile, the classic marquee out front, a row of original seats from 1938 and one feature that you've likely never heard of a "cry room".

"The cry room offers a place for parents of children that are misbehaving. And instead of having to miss their movie, they're able to go the cry room and still watch it."

"When they come in, we know that they want a large popcorn with no butter and a large drink that's half coke half diet coke so they can save calories for some candy."

The Ritz has become a staple in the community; hosting the tri-lakes film festival for kindergarten through 12th-grade students, free summer matinee family movies, Halloween trick-or-treating and special events like weddings.

"They wanted that Hollywood glam style wedding and it was a very, very nice wedding."

After thirty-two years, Marla Nix enjoys watching the love for movies being passed down from generation to generation.

"That is one of the best memories, is watching these kids grow up and become parents themselves and coming back to the Ritz."