The highest grossing film of 2010 did not play at the Kimball Theatre. Nor did the second, nor the third, nor the fourth. In fact, you’d have to go pretty far down the list to find a movie that might play at the Kimball – maybe all the way to number 39, “The King’s Speech.”
The Kimball is about to make itself stand out a little more by offering a program to students through which, for five dollars students receive a small fountain drink and regular sized popcorn with their movie ticket on Tuesday nights in February.
“We want to make it easier for all students to become familiar with what we do here,” the Kimball’s program director, Clay Riley ’72 M.A. ’80, said. “And we figure by offering a special rate on a special night, we’re likely to get those students who haven’t been here already.”
Even for students who already frequent the Kimball think the special program seems like a great idea.
“All of the films are little-known gems that I’ve read about but can’t seem to find a theater that shows them,” Brian Bolt ’13, who visits the theater often, said. “Ordinarily, I would wait until Netflix sends them to my mailbox and watch them on my computer, but the Kimball Theatre is by far the grander place to watch them.”
According to Riley, February is traditionally a slower month for the Kimball.
“We don’t really have a lot of live performances going on,” he said. “That gives us the opportunity to give the widest selection of movies.”
Located in Merchant’s Square, the Kimball Theatre blends in well with its brick surroundings, but doesn’t adhere to the same tourist-driven mentality of many of the other business in the area.
“What we do here is more directed to the students and the community than the visitors,” Riley said. “The movies, particularly when the students are in town, are more directed toward the College.”
The theater’s outward appearance and location also give little indication that inside awaits a cinematic experience available nowhere else in Williamsburg and increasingly hard to find across the country.
“We specialize in independent films and foreign films,” Riley said. “What’s made here in the United States is an independent production. Whatever we show here isn’t likely to be at the other theaters at all.”
This quality brings in students looking for an experience that difference from the kind offered by your typical movie theater.
“I enjoy going to the Kimball precisely because it’s unique,” Bolt said. “It’s a great resource for any cinephile, because it screens independent or foreign films that probably won’t be showing at New Town or the Movie Tavern.”
Riley agreed, and suggested that students look beyond the more commercial cinemas in Williamsburg.
“That’s why we want students to come,” Riley said. “So they see that we are special.”