In an effort to improve the quality of the viewing experience for patrons of the Little Lorraine, members of the Save the Lorraine Foundation have undertaken extensive renovations at the theater recently.
The result will be a whole new look for the interior of the theater along with a better viewing experience through technological upgrades of the theater’s projection and sound systems.
Foundation Vice President Alex Houmes spoke with The Chronicle about the work that’s currently underway at the theater.
The newest addition that will catch people’s eye as they enter the theater is the addition of risers in the seating area.
“These risers are going to allow us to raise each seating platform up 10 inches,” Houmes said. “That way, we eliminate the problem of not being able to see over other people’s heads.”
Prior to the renovations, Houmes said, the seats were just on one flat surface which wasn’t the ideal situation for movie viewing.
“This is just going to be way better,” he said.
Houmes added that there will still be two rows of seating at floor level near the front for handicapped patrons or people who’d rather not sit in the risers.
The new seating arrangement will also allow for patrons to more easily enjoy a meal on nights that the Little Lorraine offers them as there will be permanent countertops on the partition walls for each row of seating on the risers.
Houmes said the Little Lorraine’s “Pizza and a Movie” Friday night specials have been popular with patrons.
“We realize that people like to watch a movie while they eat here,” he said.
Houmes said they currently working with Pizza King to provide an additional food option on Friday nights. He said they will announce that option later. He said they are also working with another local restaurant to possibly do a dinner and a movie option on Saturday night.
Beyond the addition of risers, the foundation has also improved the picture and sound quality of the movies that will be shown at the Little Lorraine.
“Since you can see the screen better, we also wanted to make the picture better,” Houmes said.
The foundation has purchased a new projector for the Little Lorraine that will allow them to screen movies in 4K providing a more vivid and crisp picture.
“I’ve been testing it out a little bit and I can already tell the difference,” he said. “Just the motion is two to three times better than what we had before. It’s just so much smoother because of the additional pixels on the screen. It’s something that not everybody can get at home, so we’re excited about that.”
Along with improving the quality of the picture, Houmes said they have also heightened the quality of the sound in the Little Lorraine.
He said the new system will be in full 7.2.2 surround sound.
This will replace the previous system which only provided stereo sound.
“Some people didn’t realize this, but, since this building opened, this building has only been stereo, left and right channel, no sub, no center, no surrounds,” he said. “Even in stereo, the sound was pretty impressive, but we’re just going to add that next step, which will be really immersive.”
Houmes said the sound set-up will be similar to the set up in the main theater with two channels on left and right and two back surrounds along with Dolby Atmos speakers in the ceiling and a true center channel.
Another addition that Houmes is excited about is the inclusion of the Lorraine’s subwoofers underneath the risers.
“A little bit of the Lorraine is going to live on in the Little Lorraine,” he said. “Anybody who remembers movies at the Lorraine knows how well that sounded, so bringing in some of that technology is going to really blow people away when they watch a movie.”
Beyond these improvements, Houmes said the foundation has taken this time to do a deep cleaning of all of the seats in the theater.
Houmes said the foundation regularly cleans the seats, but the shutdown time for the renovations has allowed them to take apart the seats and give them a deep cleaning.
Overall, Houmes said the theatre will have a more modern feel.
“We’re just taking advantage of the time we’ve been closed to do that,” he said.
As for what inspired these renovations, Houmes said the building itself has not been altered since it was first opened in the 1990’s and not much had been done on the inside since the last owner of the Lorraine, Josh Caudle, had closed it several years ago.
When the Save the Lorraine Foundation took over responsibility for the building and reopened the theater, Houmes said they cleaned up the interior and made it ready for movies, but hadn’t gone much beyond that.
Houmes said the foundation is going to be focusing on using the main Lorraine Theatre for live events for the foreseeable future.
“We’re doubling down on the live events next year at the main theater,” he said. “We don’t see us doing movies there for the next few years, just because of the expense of the equipment.”
Since they won’t be able to use the main theater for movies for the time being, Houmes said the foundation decided they needed to improve the viewing experience at the Little Lorraine.
“We thought, if we’re going to continue operating this as a movie theater, we should probably make the experience a little better for our customers,” he said.
Houmes said the foundation has heard comments and feedback from patrons of the Little Lorraine and have kept those ideas in mind with these renovations.
Houmes hopes to have the renovations completed by Oct. 18 for the Little Lorraine’s showings of “Toy Story 4.” Showtimes will be Oct. 18 at 7 p.m., Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. This will be followed up with showings of Disney’s remake of “The Lion King” the following weekend.
Houmes feels showing these two movies will be a good way to showcase the new improvements that have been made to the Little Lorraine.
Houmes said admission and concession prices will remain the same through the rest of the year.
“We wanted to make sure people knew that there’s going to be a new and better experience at the same price,” he said.