Today I’d like to do something different and write about my new favorite place: The Historic Artcraft Theater of Franklin Indiana.
It was my brother who first told me about The Artcraft. He went to a showing of To Kill A Mockingbird there with friends and was blown away. For nearly an hour on the phone he gushed over the place, from the old seats to the dings of the projectors to the little old ladies selling popcorn. I knew I had to check the place out.
A few weeks later, The Artcraft was doing an afternoon showing of The Wizard of Oz. My son had never stayed awake past Munchkinland, so I set out with him to go make sure he was one of the greatest films of all time properly.
The Artcraft’s setting is picturesque and perfect. It rests in Franklin Indiana’s quaint downtown. Looking down the street is the beautiful courthouse. Just around the corner are lovely cafes, shops and a great pizza joint. The bright red and white marque is wonderfully retro and it’s blinking lights transport you in time before you even enter.
In preparation for The Wizard of Oz, the volunteers there (the whole theater is run by volunteers) had decorated. On the sidewalk was an enchanting yellow brick road. On the doors were painted poppies and “Surrender Dorothy” written above the entrance. I was told in the evening there were people in costumes.
Inside, we were greeted by some of the friendliest people I’ve met in a cinema. The popcorn is sold at a fair price and is locally grown. As my son and I looked for a seat, one of the friendly volunteers brought us a booster, my kid certainly needed it.
Before the film began, a man came out onto the stage with a microphone. He thanked us all for coming and asked if this was anyone’s first trip to their theater. My son and I and a handful of others raised their hands. He continued to give us a brief history of The Artcraft, explain a few renovations they’ve made over the years and encouraged us to come back for future shows, including a showing of Back to the Future with a free car show, boasting two DeLoreans. I was so bummed that I couldn’t make it to that one.
After his announcements, it was still not time for the film. There are always two main traditions before the feature: everyone stands to sing The Star Spangled Banner (complete with an old film with the words on screen) and then a cartoon is shown, usually of the Looney Tunes variety.
Now, I have grown up on The Wizard of Oz and seen it on TV countless times, but seeing it in a theater, on a beautiful 35mm print was awesome! Even my three year old boy was entranced for most of the film. I was so proud that he didn’t cry when he was obviously scared by The Wicked Witch of the West and Oz’s pyrotechnics. I’m thrilled that I could give him a real first look at The Wizard of Oz at such a lovely theater.
We love The Artcraft so much, we came back again and again in the summer for their weekly kid’s summer programs. We saw a few kid friendly films including Babe and Space Jam, each visit a pure delight.
For months I told my brother that we needed to see an evening film there. A few weeks ago, I finally got a Friday evening free to see a movie at The Artcraft with my brother and his lovely fiance. We saw 12 Angry Men, a first viewing for my brother and future sister-in-law. We had dinner down the street and settled in early, watching the theater become nearly full for a black and white courtroom drama from the 1950s.
The pre-film festivities were a bit different in the evenings. There was the cute skit both based on the film and advertising a future event at the theater. There was a raffle, where the winner received a small silly gift to help them be a better juror, since we were seeing 12 Angry Men. But the best part was where they brought out a big map on a board and figured out who came the furthest to visit that night. A burly man from east Texas won that night. They said a couple from Australia had won the week before.
My most recent trip to The Artcraft was to see Mary Poppins with my son on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Word must be spreading quickly about this amazing little theater, because the house was nearly full. Perhaps the fact that Cosmopolitan recently named The Artcraft Indiana’s coolest movie theater has something to do with the big crowd.
Going to The Artcraft Theater is a film experience like no other. Every showing is an event, warm, inviting and family friendly. The volunteers treat you like family, even if it’s your first visit. The beautiful 35mm prints they find give movies you’ve seen before new life and character. And they have the most wonderful projectionist who let my son and another child see the booth and explain how they show the films.
Sure, sometimes you want to see the latest blockbuster in the new cinema with the reclining seats and are willing to pay $8 for half stale popcorn. But that’s not The Artcraft’s style. You walk into the past and sit at attention in the older seats. You snack on local, delicious, lovingly prepared popcorn. And you see classic, loved and unforgettable films that have shine brighter over time, just as The Artcraft Theater does.
Check out more at their website: http://www.historicartcrafttheatre.org/
*This article was not paid for by The Arcraft or any affiliates. Alyson Krier chose to write about it out of free will and pure love. All pictures were taken by Alyson Krier, who is not a very good photographer. Thanks for reading.