Lights, camera, action! The Virginian is drawing the curtain on a brand
new addition: a resident movie theater. Below, community manager Rick Betres, the main innovator
behind the cinema’s rollout, provides us a behind-the-scenes look.
The Virginian, whose
design is only mimicked by three other Holiday buildings, largely resembles a cruise ship in
structure, complete with glass elevator. “We have four floors,” explains Betres,
“and if you stand on the fourth floor and look out over the awning, it appears to be a bow of
a ship, if you look backwards and down on our 3rd floor dining room, you definitely can make out the
stern of our cruise ship that never leaves port.”
building’s unique design gives it a lot of square footage ― 93,000 to be exact. All that extra
space means a wealth of opportunities for common areas. In fact, The Virginian team has made it a
goal to have some sort of activity space on each floor.
As for the
space that currently houses The Virginian’s new theater, it’s already had multiple
“lives” as a manager’s apartment, a chapel, an extra activity room, and a storage
closet. It wasn’t until Betres sold the idea to his regional director that the resident
theater became an actual coming attraction, so to speak.
its stellar appearance, the theater provides a slew of opportunities to invite leads into the
community (Super Bowl, anyone?!). “With ruby satin walls, it makes a very distinctive
impression and is a very attractive tour hook,” says Betres.
Because The Virginian has an almost equal mix of men and women, sporting
events have been a big hit with the residents. “One of our favorite things is ‘talking
smack’ about football with our residents,” adds Betres. “As an Alabama fan, I had
done quite a bit of talking – though this year I ended up ‘listening’ a lot!
But sports are just one example of how the theater is pulling
people into the community. “For starters,” Betres begins, “the American Legion
holds its monthly meetings in the theater. We’re also trying out new viewing events, like a
Saturday morning cartoon screening with the residents’ grandkids and great-
Budgets, budgets, budgets
It’s the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue: How did The
Virginian afford to build a theater? “Actually, the theater was a very low-cost improvement to
our community,” explains Betres. “We purchased used theater seats off of Craigslist and
kept the best ones. With the help of a community fundraiser, a bit of elbow grease, and a regional
director who saw the potential, it was easy to do.”
Betres, the entire project cost less than $2,000.
But the cost for The
Virginian’s residents, who appreciate the opportunity to enjoy time together, is invaluable.
“The most popular movie so far with the residents has been ‘Lincoln’,” says
Betres. “It definitely helps that our bus driver, Tom Wyatt, appears in the film. All the
residents watched intently to see if they could identify Tom, which they did.”
We have a theater and you can, too!
When asked if
he had any advice for communities that are interested in building a theater of their own,
Betres’ response was simple: “Gauge your residents’ interest in movies. Find an
appropriate space, and create the vision.”
Congratulations on a
fun and innovative addition, Virginian! Now, just one question: Where do we buy tickets to the next
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