By Meghan Steingold
Living In The Ledge
With one featured movie shown a week and its $2 seat prices, it’s a wonder how the Sun Theater can stay afloat after 84 years of business.
“It’s a cute small theater with really reasonable prices. It’s family-owned and very popular with the members of the community,” Grand Ledge resident Allison Osika said.
The theater’s owner of 26 years, Chuck Pantera, said that business has actually peaked recently due to the community’s desire to preserve the theater.
Opening in 1931, the theater at 361 Bridge St., hit its peak in the early years of being established, according to Pantera. However, it is a city emblem and one that is highly-recognized amongst the community.
“I go there typically once a month. It’s fun to have a movie outing every once in a while and we are always happy to support this historic business,” Grand Ledge resident Jay Miller said.
What makes the theater most unique is its Monday tradition of renting it out to persons of special needs for a carefree movie outing, according to Pantera.
“My favorite part of the theater is the theater mascot, Isabel. She’s an adorable Cavalier King Charles. I go to the Sun Theater just to see her,” Lansing resident Courtney Bowerman said.
The theater seats 272 persons, and with one projection screen it’s not hard to fill the theater on an average night, according to Pantera.
“The busiest time of year is the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, which is true for any movie theatre,” Pantera said.
According to Panera, they typically see 35,000 customers a year.
“I’ve been working here for a year, and I just love being part of this theater. It’s pretty cool, and they have the best popcorn,” Sun Theater employee Molly Mooney said.
Working there for a year, Mooney attends the theater frequently on her own time with her friends.
The theater has only seven employees, all of whom work on a part-time basis to also help maintain the theater, according to Pantera.
In addition to the weekly movies that are shown only once a day, Pantera said that the theater is also up for rental for birthday parties, weddings and other occasions.
They also have special movie showings based on holidays to increase sales. For example, “Rock Horror Picture Show” is shown every year around Halloween, becoming a seasonal tradition amongst community members, Pantera said.
Being around since the early years of the theater, Pantera has been able to see the theater remain a piece of the historic Grand Ledge community. Being the owner has been a focus of his for years and he plans to remain in ownership for years to come, according to Pantera.