One would think it was New Year’s Eve on Friday afternoon as volunteers blew noisemakers, balloons appeared and confetti erupted throughout the lobby of Manistee’s Historic Vogue Theatre. Manistee resident Libby Richert couldn’t hide her surprise as she was named the Vogue’s 100,000th patron.
“It was quite a surprise, but I think it’s really fabulous to know that a hundred-thousand others have already waked through the door,” she said. Richert was attending the 4:30pm showing of the Robert Redford and Nick Nolte comedy ‘A Walk In The Woods’.
Richert and her husband Tom have been to the Vogue multiple times to see movies, and say they will definitely continue to take in films at the historic theatre, especially with her prize of a year’s worth of free movies.
Since opening its doors on December 7, 2013 after a full year of rehabilitation work and a $2.5 Million capital campaign, the 50,000th ticket was sold almost exactly one year later, on December 5, 2014.
“The second fifty-thousand came much more quickly, which is a great sign,” says Travis Alden, the Vogue’s Executive Manager. “We’re optimistic that this trend will continue, as we are still welcoming new patrons to the Vogue every single week.”
“The Vogue has become a critical component to the quality of life in our region,” says David Mix, Secretary of the Vogue Theatre Board of Directors. “Folks young and old, full-time and summer residents alike, have all embraced the theater and have contributed to its current success.”
According to Alden, there are many reasons to attribute the upward attendance trend, such as programming, value and a number of ‘intangibles’.
“We are able to bring the majority of the biggest blockbusters to Manistee, such as this summer’s ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Inside Out’,” he says. “But we also strive to offer the critically-acclaimed titles as well. We were the only theater in Northern Michigan to show all eight Oscar-nominees for Best Picture this year. For only having two screens, that’s pretty impressive.”
Having lower ticket and concessions prices than other area theaters – while providing a top-notch experience is important to the Vogue’s customers, says Alden.
“Plus, every day we see what I call ‘The Cheers Effect’,” he smiles. “The staff and volunteers here are your friends and neighbors. We’re on a first-name basis with so many of our patrons, it really is a unique community all on its own.”
The Vogue’s leadership stresses that while business is going well, the non-profit organization that owns and operates the theatre continues to work hard to ensure long-term sustainability.
“We have two primary financial goals right now, which is for the theatre to be fully independent of debt and the establishment of an emergency equipment replacement fund.” says Mix. “Overall, however, we are in great shape and the board remains confident that the community will continue to support our mission.”
Originally built in 1938, the Vogue Theatre operated on and off until 2005. In 2010 the Manistee
Downtown Development Authority acquired the abandoned property out of bankruptcy and sold it to
the newly formed 501c3 nonprofit, the Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee. The Capital Campaign continues to raise funds to retire the $700,000 in construction loans used to fill the capital funding gap and make the project a reality.
In addition to achieving 100,000 tickets sold, since opening in December of 2013, the Vogue has:
– Screened over 325 different feature films;
– Welcomed more than 1,000 patrons to attend free community events including live broadcasts of the Academy Awards & Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl games;
– Held many free community screenings of important films in conjunction with local organizations such as a Veteran’s Day Tribute, documentaries on youth homelessness and substance abuse recovery and more;
– Hosted over 2000 school children at almost no cost;
– Held numerous activities in conjunction with community events such as free holiday films during Victorian Sleighbell Weekend and a children’s Costume Contest during downtown’s Halloween event