By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Sauk Centre’s Main Street Theater is one of the test market theaters showing “Walking With the Enemy,” from May 10 – 23.
“I talked to producer/director Mark Schmidt at a convention in Las Vegas last year and he liked the idea that we were a small ‘mom ‘n’ pop’ theater,” said owner Bob Douvier. “When we went to the convention again this year, he knew us by first name. That just amazed me.”
“Walking With the Enemy” is an action drama set during World War II. It features a young man who became a hero to the Jewish people by helping save thousands of Jews from deportation from Hungary and extermination in Nazi death camps.
Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum disguised himself in a Nazi uniform to obtain information on families that were to be seized by the Nazis. He would then gather the families himself, revealing his true identity only when they were safe.
Bob and Mary had to sign a non-disclosure agreement because of the movie being released in a test market.
Schmidt told them he just wants to keep the movie local, wanting to see how people react.
“He was really interested in the rural setting,” said Bob. “He is hoping it will test well enough to be brought back this fall, when fewer studio pictures will be out.”
The Douviers are eagerly anticipating being able to watch the movie themselves.
“For them to be able to get a well-known actor like Ben Kingsley is amazing,” Bob’s wife, Mary, said.
“When I call Mark Schmidt, he’s the guy who answers the phone,” Bob said. “That impresses me. We’re really tickled that he chose us.”
Bob and Mary have owned and operated the theater since July 1976, during the height of the country’s bicentennial celebration. It was still a single screen theater then with 512 seats.
In 1985, they put in a new screen in rented space next door — now known as Screen 4.
They refurbished the original theater by removing every fourth row of seats and respacing the remaining rows.
In 1993, they added Screen 3. After building an addition into the back parking lot, they had Screen 2, their second-largest.
They bought the building in about 2000, and in 2004, added screens 5 and 6 upstairs.
Screen 1 is 28 feet wide and the theater seats 280 people. Screen 2 is 32 feet and seats 180. Screens 3 and 4 are each 18 feet and seat 90. Screens 5 and 6 are also 18 feet, and each seats 60.
An elevator was added for easier access to the second-floor theaters.
With an investment of $500,000, all six screens were converted to digital projection.
In September 2012, the 9 p.m. shows were cancelled for the winter, while the 4:30 p.m. showings were set up.
“We will probably continue that next winter, since it’s starting to catch on,” Bob said. “We get more seniors and more kids at that time.”
During the summer, 9 p.m. showings will be back on the schedule.
The Douviers have four grown children, all living within a two-hour drive of Sauk Centre. Son Jesse was working in his own business while helping at the theater at night. He became interested in buying the theater when his parents were ready to sell.
“We’re glad he did,” said Bob. “It makes life a lot easier for us.”
“He’s realizing how much time we put into the business,” Mary said. “We weren’t able to do some things like take vacations. He’s a good person to own his own business; he’s very good with people.”
“I’ve grown up working in the theater since I was 14,” Jesse said. “I like doing it; it keeps me busy.”
Jesse enjoys the always-changing aspects of the theater business, especially the transition from a mechanical to a technical way of doing things.
The theater business is being taken up by a third generation, too. Working with his grandparents and uncle is Devyn Triebenbach.
“He’s spending more time here on weekends than at home,” Bob said. “He’s a real asset already.”
“Walking With the Enemy” will be shown from May 10 – 23, Fridays – Sundays at 7:10 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 1:30 p.m. Showings Monday – Thursday will be at 4:30 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.