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New Capri Theatre owner Patrick Curtis saving the nostalgia

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 4/2/22

The Capri Theatre will be yet another project on the Shelbyville Square in the next couple of months under its new ownership. 

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New Capri Theatre owner Patrick Curtis saving the nostalgia


The Capri Theatre will be yet another project on the Shelbyville Square in the next couple of months under its new ownership. 

Patrick Curtis of Shelbyville is originally from Orange County, California. He along with his business partners plan to renovate the old 1940s theatre, keeping in mind the nostalgic feel of the theatre while also giving it more life.  

The original theatre opened around 1948 as the Princess Theater. It was then remodeled to a two-screen theater around the late 1960s and its name changed to the Capri Theater. 

“We’re going to try our best to keep it nostalgic,” Curtis said. “We’re not going to be able to compete with the IMAX’s and that kind of stuff, but we can compete by bringing families here. We want them to remember always having a great time visiting the Capri when they grow up.” 

Back in California, Curtis’ family sold their 80-year-old company, which manufactures coffee equipment. It meant they no longer had to stay in the Los Angeles area. 

Buying the theatre was originally not in Curtis’ plan when they decided to move to Shelbyville last June to conduct organic farming research (i.e., how to get more nutritional value out of what you grow). 

 “Everybody always asks, why Shelbyville? And I say, why not?” They also looked at Shelbyville as an ideal place between Huntsville and Nashville. 

Shelbyville has a lot of potential, Curtis said. Upon seeing the iconic Capri Theatre, Curtis reached out to the owners, and the movie theatre was sold. The previous owners felt it was the right time to sell, he recalled.  

Curtis said he was inspired by some of the changes coming to the Square, such as the sidewalk project as well as Keith and Fawn Weaver—the starters of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey—expanding their facility to include a tap room at the old box plant off the Square. 

“It’s hard for some of us to see where it can go...So with the movie theatre, I kind of look at it like, how can we make this a place someone would want to bring their wife or significant other to,” Curtis said. That was part of the business side of it, he said—that is, the “boom” of other businesses coming.  

“Here in Shelbyville, the sky’s the limit. The business opportunities exist,” Curtis said. A lot of people from Franklin or Murfreesboro are moving down here to Shelbyville. “They know what they like, so they bring their entrepreneurial ideas down here with them,” he explained. 

Ultimately, Curtis said the goal is for people to feel like they’re coming into a modern, nice location—but still with that nostalgic feel.  

“This is more of our creative outlet. So, we’re going to use the theatre as an opportunity to come in and have a fun conversation about what we can do for the community,” he said.  

The new owners want to make the movie experience interactive. “The concept that we have right now is to try to create an environment where people feel like when they’re walking in here, they’re walking into the movie that they’re going to see.” 

For example, during The Batman showing, the Capri added a Gotham backdrop in the main lobby. It's a small step in the right direction. Eventually, Curtis hopes it will be like a Disney amusement park ride where visitors “become a part of the ride.”  

However, determining which movies to play is a challenge, due to the politics and licensing agreements involved. For example, the theatre’s booking agent knew The Batman attendance had dropped only 12 percent at Capri, which meant that Warner Brothers would want it to play longer, according to Curtis.  

“I had to kind of push back because for a small town, I can’t just keep playing the same movies over and over...We want to be more creative than that,” Curtis explained.  

Capri is now showing the Lost City and Death of the Nile, while for spring break, they’d like to re-play the last Minions movie and Toy Story.  

“We really want to focus on families; we prefer to play more family movies. But we need to know that those families are going to come out and see it,” Curtis said.  

Curtis said he’s hoping the big remodel will be done by July 4, as long as the supply-chain doesn’t interfere too much.