By CALVIN PYNN
After re-opening eight months ago, the Radford Theatre has been working to turn its one-screen operation into more than just a movie theater.
After providing a full theatrical experience with “The Mega Lego Event,” which accompanied their last two Saturday matinee showings of “The Lego Movie,” the crew at the Theatre are trying something new – reaching out to the faith-based community.
With the release of “Son of God,” a biopic about the life of Jesus Christ, the Radford Theatre is catering to the Christian community with special events for their first weekend showings of the film.
“It’s an extension of our desire to engage our community at all levels,” said Paul Pallante, the theater’s manager.
The idea came after a unanimously positive reception from the community when the Radford Theatre held a special screening of “Season of Miracles.” The film carried a Christian theme, with a screenplay written by local artist Rusty Whitener.
According to Pallante, that positive reception opened their eyes at the theater to the audience’s desire to see faith-based content in the New River Valley. He also noted that until this year, it seemed to be an under-served market.
He pointed out that there seems to be a trend for faith-based films coming out in 2014. Following “Son of God,” the biblical epic “Noah” will be released next month, followed by “Heaven is For Real” in April, and “Exodus,” Ridley Scott’s film about Moses, in December.
Pallante attributed this trend to the fact that Hollywood seems to be picking up on a public desire to see Christian-themed films, which, for a long time, have lacked the sufficient budget to produce a quality feature. Now, that asset seems to be more possible.
“I think the faith-based community has been able to put a more concerted effort forward to support that type of content,” said Pallante. “Now they’re able to get the message and film quality that people have waited to see for a long time.”
Although he wasn’t sure if the Theatre would be showing those other films until they get closer to the release dates, Pallante said they would love to do special showings for them as well, based on how the first weekend for “Son of God” goes.
“With this movie, this is kind of our experiment to see if people will come out and support this type of content,” said Pallante. “If so, we’ll be open to carrying more of them in the future.”
The first two 7 p.m. showings of “Son of God” will feature different pre-shows.
On Friday, Feb. 28, the film will be preceded by a performance from local folk singer-songwriter Fritz Schindler. The following night, interpretive dancers from the Fairlawn Church of God will perform before the movie.
The 7 p.m. showing of “Son of God” on Sunday, March 2 has been sponsored by New Horizons Church of God in Radford, as they have rented out the Theatre and made 350 free tickets available to the showing. According to the Radford Theatre’s Facebook page, those tickets are available at the box office during the theatre’s normal hours on a first come first serve basis.
According to Pallante, the Theatre would like to do more special showings and live pre-shows with as many films as possible.
“We’re not just about movies, we’re about making memories,” said Pallante. “We’re trying to give people a real experience and bring back some magic to movie going.”
For “Son of God,” and future films, the Radford Theatre has made group ticketing and theater rental available, similar to what New Horizons Church has done for next Sunday’s show. For more information, visit www.radfordtheatre.com.