Captain America (a reasonable facsimile, that is), other Avengers and approximately 150 customers assembled and ushered in the arrival of “Movies $4 Less at the LaBelle Theatre” late last month.
“Avengers: Endgame” was the premier premiere of the new weekend cinematic offerings at the theater at 313 D St. in South Charleston.
Each weekend, LaBelle patrons can enjoy second-run, still-recent movies at the theater, with admission just $4 per tickets. Owners Doug Skaff, Mark Plants and Sarah Plants have started the endeavor to highlight the LaBelle’s history dating back to the 1940s and give the community an economic way to enjoy recent theatrical releases.
“A few years ago, I had an idea to bring back the LaBelle. It wasn’t being used very much, and when I grew up, this is where I would come to watch movies,” Mark Plants said at a July 2 ribbon-cutting event at the LaBelle.
“Being two South Charleston boys growing up in this town, going to high school here, partaking in all that South Charleston offers, we just assumed everybody knew what the LaBelle Theater was,” Skaff said. “We wanted to create a community environment where people can come for an affordable night out with their family in a classic theater.
“Our mission was to give back to the community by creating a movie venue where families, senior citizens and organizations can go and enjoy a night out at very affordable prices. I remember watching ‘Back to the Future’ and the ‘Rocky III’ and ‘IV’ movies there as a youngster with my grandparents for $2 a movie. Today, movies and concessions have become so expensive a lot of people can’t afford to take their families there,” Skaff said.
Those patient enough to forego films currently showing in theaters, can reap the savings a few weeks later, they said.
“We can’t show first-run movies, so once they’re considered second-run or intermediate movies, then we can show them,” Plants explained. “We are able to keep the price down if we wait until the movies are just finishing up from their first runs at the larger theaters.”
He added that the films should run for two to three consecutive weekends at the LaBelle.
“Every movie that’s out now we can show; we just don’t know when,” Skaff said.
Along with screening modern, family-friendly fare, the owners hope to present classic films (ranging from “Gone With the Wind” to “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”) at the LaBelle and host themed events, such as the Captain America appearance at “Avengers: Endgame.”
“Creating a place where kids can enjoy not only first-run movies but also some of the old classics makes this business so much more fun,” Sarah Plants said.
“The main focus is on showing movies just when they fall off from the main theaters,” her husband said.
Cinephiles won’t have to take out a bank loan to enjoy the snack bar, either.
“People can come and enjoy a night out and not break the bank. You could bring a family of four here and have a good time for under $25 or $30,” Skaff said. “All the concessions are $3, with free refills, and a combo meal where you get popcorn, drink and candy for $8.”
Party packages are available for private group showings. Groups can rent the facility for $255 and watch a “LaBelle $4 Less” film or one they bring to view. The cost includes popcorn and beverages, with other snacks available for an additional fee.
South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens helped the owners cut the ribbon last week. He lauded their launch of “Movies $4 Less,” saying, “When these guys came to me with the idea of having these second-run movies with a family able to come down here for four bucks [a ticket], I thought it was a great opportunity for our community and surrounding communities to have a nice place to come and watch a movie. It’s the LaBelle Theater reborn.”
“Movies $4 Less” features are shown at 7 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.
Upcoming films are posted on the “Movies $4 Less at the LaBelle Theatre” Facebook page.