I was watching The Mask, starring Jim Carrey on TV the other night and it brought back a memory about the Paramount Theatre that started as a trickle and then turned into a flood.
When The Mask came out in the late summer 1994, the Paramount’s air conditioning had failed and we were trying to make the best of it by handing out popsicles and paper fans to the guests as they came in.
It was literally one of the hottest movies of that summer.
But the memories started two years earlier when I arrived at the Paramount during the August long weekend of 1992 to take over as the theatre manager.
Death Becomes Her, starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis was the big movie but it was the Sunday night midnight show of Wayne’s World that provided the reality check of what I was getting myself into.
Even though it had been a hit earlier in the year, Wayne’s World still sold out the then almost 600-seat auditorium.
The following summer provided another test: The release of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
That movie provided a month of me saying: “Maybe it will slow down tomorrow.”
The line-ups were such that you do not see today, living in the era we do now of advanced Internet ticket sales and reserved seating.
On a nightly basis, the line-ups headed towards the lake past Earl’s, and the restaurant took advantage of the situation and gave samples of chicken wings to those waiting in the line.
In 1995, the Paramount underwent a renovation to expand it by two screening auditoriums.
To do so, the lobby had to be gutted and the theatre was temporarily closed.
I remember distinctly one weekend when there was a wood wall around the entrance as I was standing in the lobby with broken drywall and concrete all around me.
Someone poked their head through the door in the temporary wall and asked if we would be open that evening.
That summer also provided a great memory with Waterworld.
Even though the Kevin Costner epic was much maligned, it provided me an opportunity to meet pre-Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.
He had the small role of Drifter in Waterworld, but it was a memorable one and he was gracious enough to do a little media in town and talk about his experience on the set and the movie, which ended up doing big business locally.
At one point, I had an assistant manager named Bruce Lee, which was very appropriate for the job but also provided no end to the obvious jokes, especially when Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story played at the Paramount.
But the last laugh was had by him when he got a plum role in Snakes On A Plane and his movie made a screening appearance at the Paramount.
And if you saw the movie, he literally got the last laugh at the end in a scene that almost stole the entire movie.
In 1998, we decorated the lobby in a wedding theme for the Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer. It looked so nice that we decided to see if anyone would want to take advantage of the set-up to hold their marriage ceremony, and one couple took us up on the offer.
And personally, one memory that I will always cherish is my daughter taking her first steps in the theatre lobby.