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Roxy: The Sequel

Valley County's Roxy Theatre is the star of its own show


I can't remember the last time a movie theater gave me a thrill. I'm a child of post-WWII single-screen movie palaces, but those are hazy reflections in today's age of multiplexes, which push out stadium screenings by the dozen.

But on your next trip north I encourage you to carve out a couple of hours and grab two on the aisle at The Roxy Theatre in Cascade.

I have visited The Roxy many times over the years, but sitting through a scratched-up version of a two-month-old film usually required a winter coat. But that was then.

"If you're going to do it, you might as well do it right," said Kristina Pickard, who helped revamp the theater with her husband, Mark.

But the Pickards didn't simply rescue the Roxy, they gave the old girl a new 'do with an art deco luster--installing fabulous seating and high-tech projection enhancements.

"I'm pretty sure you're sitting in the most technologically advanced movie theater in the country," said Mark. "That is, unless somebody came out with something new in the last two weeks."

There's no other way to put it: The Pickards are rich.

"The Roxy needed to convert to digital and possibly get some new seating," Mark said. "Fine. But we decided to put in quite a bit after that."

The remodel includes new carpeting fashioned after the White House's floor covering, two new Dolby 7.1 acoustical systems (one for movies, another for conferences), bathrooms with gorgeous new tiling and what Kristina calls "flattering" lighting, a restored box office with art deco marble and a remodeled concession area with organic popcorn and real butter.

Jason Speer sat nearby and beamed. The full-time Valley County sheriff bought the run-down Roxy in 2006 and, juggling both jobs, continues to manage the theater with his wife Trisha and four children.

"Everything changed in 2010. That's when the studios said, 'Sorry, we're all going digital by 2014,'" said Speer. "There were some financial incentive programs to help out some theaters, but they required two screens or more. That left single-screen mom-and-pop theaters like us out in the cold."

Quite literally, in the case of the Roxy, which was notoriously frigid in the winter or sweltering in the summer.

"We have new heating and air conditioning so, no, you don't need to bring a blanket or umbrella anymore," said Pickard.

The theater, which was built in 1939 for $25,000, didn't age well as Cascade lost its sawmill and much of its population. Cascade soon became a drive-thru landmark as tourists took their money 28 miles north to McCall.

But the Pickards have changed that.

"We're from Miami Beach; we spend about two to three months a year here," said Mark. "We built Kelly's Whitewater Park in 2010 in memory of Kristina's late sister, Kelly."

And then one day, the Pickards connected with Speer, who had launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes that his Cascade neighbors would help raise $140,000 to fund a digital upgrade for The Roxy.

"I told Jason to send me a business plan," said Mark. "What can I say? We spent a lot of money to build the whitewater park, but it's quite possible that The Roxy is even more meaningful to the people of the town."

Speer opened up an app on his phone, dimmed the lights and started a screening of Star Trek Into Darkness, launching a 3-D experience with impressive wraparound sound.

"We're not huge movie buffs," whispered Kristina. "But it would have been horrible if they closed this theater down. What a landmark."