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The Ritz Theater at risk of losing first-run releases | News

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The Ritz Theater at risk of losing first-run releases
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MALVERN, Ark. (KTHV) - The Ritz Theatre in Malvern is one of the only historic theaters in the state that offers new release movies on their opening day.

But after the latest "Terminator" film flopped in ticket sales, Paramount Pictures is keeping a closer watch on the theater.

The theater is the second oldest theater in the state, and after opening in 1938, it has provided opening day movies for multiple generations across the state.

"The Ritz is a very important part of our culture," said Nikki Launius, with the Malvern Chamber of Commerce.

It's history that the city of Malvern would hate to lose.

"It's nostalgic," said theater owner Marla Nix, who even met her husband at the theatre.

"We always kind of joked of it as 'love at the Ritz,'" said Nix.

Stephanie Brewster and her family fell in love too. They have been coming to the theater for the past 15 years.

"It's just a fixture here in town that we come to several times a month," said Brewster.

Although entertaining, the movies are still a business.

"They can't provide a movie to a community just out of the goodness of their hearts," said Nix.

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"So, when a movie does not do well here, but it did good in other small town theaters, they look at us a little more sharply."

On Tuesday, a distributor with Paramount Pictures told the Ritz that the movie "Mission Impossible 5" needed to do well in numbers or the distributer will not give the Ritz first runs anymore.

"We have to prove to them, and we have to show numbers," said Nix.

If Paramount pulls, the theater faces risk of losing more numbers.

"If we're not able to open movies, they will go other places," said Nix.

The community and loyal movie goers are still remaining by the theater's side.

"Everyone would miss it. Everyone would miss seeing the neon lights driving downtown," said Launius.

"I would hate for that to happen, because there's not a lot local for entertainment here in town," said Brewster.

The Ritz Theatre owners started a GoFundMe page for the theater on Wednesday.

They are hoping to raise money for renovations, to encourage more people to come to the theater, keep their ticket prices down and see their sales go up.

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