Mar 28, 2014 7:11 PM by Joanna Wise

La Junta Fox Theater needs 100k for digital upgrades

LA JUNTA, Colo. - As a kid, Joey Johnson would pass the Fox Theater. Never did he think one day he would be running it.

"When I did come, it was always just a lot of fun," said Johnson, the owner of the theater.

The popping of the popcorn, the swish of the soda machine. There was just something about it that made Johnson happy. But the 100-year-old theater had its ups and downs.

"i've seen it open and close over the years," Johnson said.

One day the screen went black and stayed that way. The doors locked and never reopened, that was until Johnson passed the theater again, this time as an adult.

"One day I was passing by, it had been for sale for over a year and it had been closed for probably about 5 years or longer. I decided to look into it and two weeks later I was signing papers," said Johnson.

He couldn't believe he went for it.

"I had never worked in the theater before. I'm a nurse by trade so this was all new to me."

On March 14th 2008, the doors reopened.

"It was really rewarding... to see families out enjoying themselves together, making memories together... that's the reward that's there for me," Johnson said.

But now the theater could be forced to close again. The studios are getting away from the 35 millimeter films and turning toward a digital format. Because of that, many mom and pop theaters have been forced to shut their doors.

"For us the challenge is that the total project which will include also sound upgrades and screen upgrades is nearly $100,000," Johnson said.

That's money Johnson simply doesn't have. So he's turning to the community for help, asking for donations.

Sara Beechum has been coming to the theater for about 8 years and she doesn't want to see it close.

"I really think there needs to be help for it because we like this theater and they're doing a good job," said Beechum.

Shayla Thomas, a kindergartener, couldn't agree more.

"I love the movie theater... I'll miss it, if it (closes) forever..."

Johnson says the Gates Family Foundation has already donated $15,000. A local couple also donated $10,000. Johnson will eventually close the doors to focus on fundraising. He hopes his goal will be met before the summer blockbuster season begins.



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