Movies spark our imaginations to come to life, helping us believe that anything and everything is possible. They transport us to other dimensions, galaxies far far away, mystical wardrobes and alternate realities for us to escape into.
They allow us to have instant excitement from the moment that we purchase our tickets. With movies comes the popcorn and the shared laughs, tears and joy with our friends and families in the theater.
But this experience is going to be no longer in the small town of Fort Stockton, where the beloved Panther Pictures was given the tragic news that the city decided to terminate its lease contract. What was the reasoning given? Failure to establish an amicable landlord-tenant relationship — which, according to the owners of Panther Pictures, the reasoning given is “a political move and admittedly an unjust, abuse of power reason for termination.”
There is always two sides to a story, but this announcement just seems to have come out of the blue.
Panther Pictures Management, a mother-and-son duo, has attempted to make amends with the city simply to save the theatre for the community, but has been given the run-around. With disappointment, the duo is forced to shut down the movie theatre after 21 months. Nearly two years of offering something for the youth in the town, giving families a place to spend time together and letting a local band perform before the premiere is gone.
The theater offered more than just showing movies. The dedicated staff went above and beyond in decorating for each motion picture, including (but not limited to) pink streamers and balloons for “Barbie,” gold backdrops for “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and transforming the lobby into a jungle-like escape for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” They even invited elementary school students to spend a few hours in the theater, with popcorn in hand, to watch “The Polar Express.”
Another small business is having to shut its doors.
I moved to this small town nearly three years ago. What I have learned in that short amount of time is this is a tight-knit community that strives to support any business or endeavor that comes into town. However, I have also learned the other side of it where, within the span of weeks, two businesses — including Panther Pictures — have announced that they are shutting down. Now, the other one is a locally-owned Italian restaurant that I did not have the opportunity to visit, but from my understanding, the location was the issue.
I’ve also heard that city government politics often affect the small, locally-owned businesses, yet it’s the community that is affected the most. These businesses bring happiness and joy to everyone who visits them: You know that when you are buying an iced latte from the coffee shop in town, you are paying for them to keep the lights on or the salaries of the student employees who are saving up for college; you know that when you buy an outfit from the consignment shop downtown, you are helping fulfill a lifelong dream; and you know that when you buy a sandwich from the diner, you are helping put food on the owner’s family’s table.
I did not grow up here. I do not know all of the ins and outs, or the history, but I do know that these people want to believe in their town. They want to have hometown pride. Seeing these businesses close, and knowing that future ones that come into town may not be successful, destroys all of that instantly.
For the people in Hays County, I am sure you are wondering why you should care about a movie theatre shutting down in a small town in West Texas. I think that this situation can also speak to businesses in larger areas.
Everyone should be supporting small businesses, especially this holiday season when shopping for the perfect gift for someone, even if it is last minute. From what I have seen, keeping any business — but more so the smaller ones that are just family-owned — open is difficult. You never know what your purchase, big or small, could do for them.
To all of the business owners out there who are simply trying to make ends meet, never stop chasing your dream.
Navarro is the editor of the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch. She can be reached at email@example.com.