Still missing the Jasper theater

By Jeffery Winborne
Posted 5/5/19

Marvel Studios latest blockbuster 'Avengers Endgame' opened on April 26 to packed theaters around the country. With a 95 percent “Verified Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com, the conclusion to …

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Still missing the Jasper theater

Posted

Marvel Studios latest blockbuster 'Avengers Endgame' opened on April 26 to packed theaters around the country. With a 95 percent “Verified Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com, the conclusion to what Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, dubbed the “Infinity Saga” broke the all-time opening weekend box office record with $1.2 billion. The film is on track and expected to break the all-time box office record currently held by James Cameron's “Avatar,”which sits at $2.8 billion.

Unfortunately, if you live in Walker County and want to see the film (or any other) you still must drive to Cullman, Jefferson or Tuscaloosa counties for a traditional movie theater.

On 4th St W in Jasper, just off of Highway 78 and across from Big Lots, sits a parking lot leading to an empty space. It's hard to imagine at times that just six years ago stood Walker County's only movie theater. Cobb Movies 4 closed its doors in 2013 after 30 years of operation.

"As each theater ends its lease term, we evaluate it financially and see if it makes sense to renew. Unfortunately in this case, it did not," Jeremy Welman, the chief operating officer of Cobb Theatres at the time, told the Daily Mountain Eagle in 2013. For those that remember the last years of the theater's existence, it is easy to see why it did not make sense.

It's not hard to remember children and adults alike excited to see Disney's “Lilo and Stitch” in 2002. The theater was packed in 2003 for the finale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Return of the King.” But as time passed and Hollywood budgets grew larger, Cobb Movies 4 remained the same. Years of use showed in every corner.

The last movie I saw there was Zack Snyder's 2013 Superman film “Man of Steel.” To say that the facility was not up to par would be an understatement. The building had a distinct smell to accompany the ever-sticky floors. The flickering on the screen before digital projectors took over cinema around the county and the slight yet irritating hum that accompanied the audio were steadfast reminders of the state of the outdated technology. And yet, we still went.

A quick Google search reveals an old review on Yelp.com about the theater.

 “The floors are a little sticky, and the move selection is limited. However, if you're just headed to see a movie and not hoping for a life changing experience, then this is your place,” the review states by a user named Landon H.

We knew the building wasn't a cinematic experience. But for some it was still better than driving nearly an hour for a movie. For others it was the memory of what it once was. And for some, it was distinctly ours. And that's one thing I have always loved about this county, we treasure what we can claim as our own, for better or for worse.

I vividly remember thinking when the theater announced it would be closing its doors for good that perhaps Jasper would finally get an upgrade. Not a massive 16-theater facility, but something more up to date. Who would build it? Where would it be? What movies will be out on opening night? But as the years passed, we stopped asking those questions and slowly accepted the fact that to see a new movie meant driving out of the county. Now when someone says they are going to see a movie, the response is almost always “Where are you going to see it at?”

2019 features another huge lineup of potential blockbuster films, Spider-Man, The Lion King, Detective Pikachu and Star Wars just to name a few. Just as important as which ones you will be seeing, until Jasper can one day have its own theater again we have to ask another question. Where will you go to see your next favorite movie?


Jeffery Winborne is new media coordinator for the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or jeffery.winborne@mountaineagle.com.