Movie-goers catch final showing at Kentucky Theatre before it temporarily closes

The Kentucky Theatre sign is nearly impossible to miss driving down Main Street in downtown Lexington.
Published: Oct. 4, 2020 at 9:58 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Theatre sign is nearly impossible to miss driving down Main Street in downtown Lexington.

It usually lists movies playing on any given night, but the titles displayed Sunday night were the last showings, as the theatre has temporarily closed down until further notice.

“We are simply said another victim of COVID-19,” Manager Fred Mills said.

Mills has managed Kentucky Theatre for more than fifty years, and he said it’s overcome its share of obstacles in that time.

“In 1987 there was a fire next door,” Mills said. “The theatre suffered heavy smoke damage and was rendered inoperable.”

But, fast forward to 2020 and the effects of COVID-19 prove to be too much to bear, announcing Kentucky Theatre is temporarily closing.

“It absolutely broke my heart when I heard it,” movie-goer George Bonilla said. “It actually brought tears to my eyes.”

The news brought people of all generations to the theatre for the final showing Sunday night.

Some were regulars with memories around every turn.

“I’m going to play My Old Kentucky Home as people are leaving, one last time,” William Webber who is an organist at the theatre said.

And, others were seeing the theatre for the very first time.

“This is George E.'s first time in the Kentucky Theatre, although I talk about this place all the time,” Bonilla said about his son.

For Kentucky Theatre’s final showings, they didn’t play brand new, never before seen movies, instead they picked classics like Cool Hand Luke and Casablanca.

“I’m here to see Casablanca,” movie-goer Dominic Martina said. “It’s a film everyone loves, it’s a beautiful film, and it’s considered one of the greatest movies of all time.”

Bonilla: “The last line of Casablanca is ‘this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship’,” Bonilla said. “So, the ending of this movie should be the beginning of the renaissance of the Kentucky Theatre and folks, make sure it comes back.”

The city owns the Kentucky Theatre building, and Mayor Linda Gorton said it will maintain the space until the theatre can reopen, hopefully sometime in 2021.

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