WHEAT COUNTRY – Heather Ferguson and Curtis Hofrock opened Cinema West in April 2022 and have been working to give back to the community ever since. The theater has also just launched its summer matinee program.
The theater has been doing well since it opened in 2022. People are happy about the low prices. The theater is regularly open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Films are shown at the following times: 6:30pm (Thursdays), 6:30pm and 8:45pm (Fridays and Saturdays) and Sundays (6:30pm).
The theater hosts birthday parties, family reunions, and church and youth groups.
Films can be sponsored. For example, companies sponsor the screening of a film on cinema days when other films are not showing. However, anyone can sponsor a film, with the cost being the cost of the film and the number of people attending to watch it.
Cinema West is currently the only cinema in Wheatland. It has been around since 1974 and was built after a group of people raised funds and the city matched the amount they raised. When Ferguson saw that the previous owner of Cinema West was retiring, he called the councilors and asked what was going to happen to the theater. She wrote a business plan for the theater and applied for the position. Six to eight months later, they received the theater and remodeled it.
Ferguson and Hofrock both run the theater as a side project. Ferguson works for the National Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) and Hofrock is Program Director for Parks and Recreation.
“It was important for us to open it up to young people because we both grew up here and spent a lot of time here. I wanted this opportunity for all of our children,” Ferguson said.
“The community support has been phenomenal,” said Hofrock.
Ferguson and Hofrock have also found ways to give back to the Wheatland community. One way they did this was through a donation to the First Flights for Kids program. First Flights for Kids is a local aviation program supported by local people with airplanes.
“I know we have several kids who actually got their pilot’s license before they got their diploma here in town,” Ferguson said of the impact the program is having in the community.
top gun was a hit in theaters, and Ferguson and Hofrock took the opportunity to raise money to support First Flights for Kids. They collected collector’s tins to try to raise funds top gun ran in cinemas. They donated $7 from each bucket to the First Flights for Kids program. before top gun was released, they held a theme night that brought in a lot of money. They also held a raffle for top gun posters.
“We actually raised quite a lot of money for this. The city has really stepped up and worked with us on this,” Ferguson said.
The money raised will pay for the T-shirts and fuel for the planes. This year, on August 27th, the program allows kids to come out, look at their planes and talk to them about the program and their opportunities. They also offer children’s rides.
Wheatland Cinema has a special Summer Matinee program of 10 films for 10 weeks this summer. A summer pass costs $35 for children. The films are shown on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. Different films are shown each week. The first movie was trolls. Films that will be screened as part of the matinee program this summer are Scoob!, Tom and Jerry, Clifford, Space Jam, The Boss Baby, Paw Patrol, Sing 2, The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Croods: New Age.
“This is another option for children in the summer. It’s getting hot and they don’t want to be in the heat. I think it’s very beneficial. It gives them a place to be instead of doing things that might not be so good for them,” Hofrock said of the summer matinee program.
The summer matinee program is modeled after a program in Sidney, Nebraska.
“We really couldn’t have done everything we’ve done without Sidney’s John and Kim Phillips. They donated things to us and made things happen that we didn’t know were going to work. You made it possible for us. It was huge for us. John has been in the theater business for over 30 years.
“They were probably the only reason we were successful,” Ferguson said.
“Supply chain is a big issue for us right now,” Hofrock noted. “Something as simple as a bag of popcorn is almost impossible to get right now, but because we have a relationship with them and they have relationships throughout the theater industry, because we have these contacts, we can get some of those things.”
“That was definitely something that God put in our laps because we never thought we would be in the position we are now and to be able to do what we did was absolutely something we did for been blessed and that obviously we should do the city,” Ferguson said.
Summer matinee films may also be sponsored. In addition, there are advertising opportunities in the theater on the screen and in the lobby.