Movies were, and are, made to be shown on the big screen. Who hasn’t wanted to see Casablanca in a theater, with Bogart and Bergman filling the screen with their kiss, or 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the space station rotating huge in fromt of them? In Boise, Boise Classic Movies is keeping the thrill of seeing a big movie on a big screen alive by showing selected classic movies at the Egyptian Theater in Downtown Boise. Movies such as The Wizard of OZ, which can not be appreciated on a TV as it can on the big screen the way it was originally intended, are regularly shown at the Egyptian Theater. This is all due to Boise Classic Movies and Wyatt Warner, who runs the show. The Boise Beat recently spoke with Wyatt about the history of Boise Classic Movies, the history of the Egyptian Theater (originally known as the Ada Theater), what’s coming up in the future and movies in general.
Q: Wyatt, what was the idea behind Boise Classic Movies?
A: The idea was just to get people to go to older movies that they enjoy at the Egyptian. The Egyptian is kind of neat, it was under-used as far as movies went, but who doesn’t want to go to a place like that more often, especially in town here where it’s the last of its kind? The idea behind Boise Classic Movies was really just to get folks watching their favorite movies that are meant to be watched on the big screen, on a big screen in a classic venue like that.
The Egyptian tends to be under-used as far as movies, they showed maybe a handful a year. They showed under 10, now we are showing between 30 and 40. The idea is to get movies that were meant to be shown on the big screen, on the big screen at the Egyptian. It’s tough to get folks to show up for repertory screenings, so in order to give it a shot without going broke, we just did the group buying piece to ensure that we had a minimum audience going.
Q: Why the Egyptian Theatre?
A: The Egyptian is one of the last of its kind. Boise used to have several single-screen theaters in the area and they one by one either got converted to something else or torn down, the second to last (the Granada Theater) is now the Blues Bouquet and the last is the Egyptian, built in 1927. They restored a lot of the original art. They preserved it rather then con-temporized it, so it’s really the last spot in Boise like it. I’m from the Willamette Valley, over near Salem and Portland and there are all kinds of properties over there that have been preserved like that. If we don’t put these places to use then they’re going to go away, so we’re trying to put it to use.
Q: What are your criteria for picking movies?
A: The criteria for me for picking movies is what people ask to see. There is a form on the website where people come and are asked what they want to see. I have around 4,200 movies that people have asked to see and every month I pick five, usually ones that are related in some way. Whatever wins that vote is what goes up every month. We don’t show it unless we get at least 150 people to show up first. The same goes for around Christmas, we show around 2 or three movies a week around Christmas but it’s based upon what people ask to see. It’s the same around Halloween. In the summer we show a handful of movies that would win the vote no matter what they were put up against. For those, we don’t bother going through the pretense of a vote, we just show them since people keep asking for them and they keep showing up for them, like Princess Bride and Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can put those up any time and folks will come.
Q: So what movies are coming up?
A: We’ve got Blade Runner coming up this month. That won a vote of ‘manly’ movies, against ones like Reservoir Dogs, Usual Suspects and things like that. With the Blade Runner sequel coming out a couple weeks after, people jumped on that. It’s actually the second time we’ve done Blade Runner, we did it about four years ago. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a different movie in the theater then it is at home. I hadn’t seen it since high school and watched it when we showed it before and had such a great time that I said to my brother-in-law, ‘Hey you’ve got to see this, it’s great!’. We watched it at home and both fell asleep, you know when you’re home it’s slower paced and you’ve got other things going on. It’s just a completely different experience to see it in a darkened theater like that.It’s great!
So we’ve got that coming up, we’ve got the Halloween lineup about to come up, we’re going to be doing movies like Young Frankenstein. I’m still wrestling over what to show for Halloween, but when we’re done with Young Frankenstein we’ll do Hocus Pocus.
Q: Why do you think Blade Runner makes such a big difference viewing it on the big screen?
A: You watch a show at home and you tend to watch part of it. You’ve got things going on or someone calls, you’ve got kids running around, you’ve got laundry going, you’ve got dinner to make, any number of things. The lights are up, the screen is relatively small. Your commitment to it really isn’t that big. and you’re not sitting around with a couple of hundred people doing that same thing that you are. So when you go into a theatre, it’s larger-than-life. It rattles the walls, everyone is doing the same thing, there’s nothing else for you to do. They’ve spent millions of dollars to get it exactly where it is; and this is the presentation it’s supposed to be seen in. It’s enveloping and if you don’t put it in a place like that, well it’s a different feeling at home.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We’re getting the concept going over in Idaho Falls; Vancouver, Washington; Albany, Oregon. The rest of the summer we’re looking at other places to get it moving. It’s reinvigorated the Egyptian as the kind of place where people go see movies. We can’t be the only ones who would be into this! The amazing part is, all I had to really do is give people the opportunity to tell me what they wanted to see and put it up. If people suddenly lost interest in going to see their favorite movies on the big screen I’d just be out of luck, pack it up and go home. I can’t make anyone do it, so its really been a community-driven thing. There are plenty of other communities that would want to do it too, fingers crossed anyways!
Q: Thanks, Wyatt and we’ll see you at the movies!
For many people, there is nothing like the feeling when the lights dim and one of the classic studio themes shoot out of the theater speakers. Boise Classic Movies gives you not only to see some of these great movies the way they should be shown, but also gives avid film buffs the chance to suggest and pick some of their favorite movies for showing. So go to one of their screenings, sit back in the classic restored Egyptian Theater and enjoy a great movie!
700 W. Main Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
Phone : (208) 345-0454