SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — "Slightly new" movies are now playing on screen on a weekly basis at South Charleston's historic LaBelle Theatre at 313 D St., and they're viewable for only $4 a ticket, letting cinephiles savor some savings along with the sweeping, big-screen experience at the venerable venue.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.
Local businessmen and South Charleston natives Doug Skaff and Mark Plants, launched the discount-film venture along with Plants' wife, Sarah.
"A few years ago, I had an idea to bring back the LaBelle," Mark Plants said. "It wasn't being used very much, and when I grew up, this is where I would come to watch movies. Doug and I got together and thought about doing it."
"It's a great asset the city has," Skaff said, "and there are so many people who don't even know it's here."
"I just think it's a great idea," South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said. "When these guys came to me with the idea of having these second-run movies, with a family able to come down here for four bucks (a ticket), I thought it was a great opportunity for our community and surrounding communities to have a nice place to come and watch a movie. It's the LaBelle Theatre reborn."
The $4 movies actually began the weekend prior to the July 2 ribbon cutting, with screenings of "Avengers: Endgame," which was re-released recently to theaters with added footage, following its initial, record-breaking run earlier this year. Approximately 150 people attended the four weekend showings.
"We had a great turnout," Plants said, "and I was surprised when I got two comments: 'When is the next movie?' and 'We never knew this was here.' There are so many people outside of the city of South Charleston that have just never heard of the LaBelle. They don't know its history."
"Being two South Charleston boys growing up in this town, going to high school here, partaking in all that South Charleston offers, we just assumed everybody knew what the LaBelle Theatre was," Skaff added.
"We jokingly, but seriously, don't know if we'll make any money off of this thing, but that's not the point," he said. "The point was, we wanted to create a community environment where people can come for an affordable night out with their family in a classic theater."
"People ask what kind of movies we're going to have here. We're allowed to show movies after they've been out for a couple of months," Skaff explained.
"We can't show first-run movies" due to movie studio stipulations, Plants said, "so once they're considered second-run or intermediate movies, then we can show them."
Hoped to be shown soon are current, family-friendly films such as "Aladdin," "The Secret Life of Pets" and "Toy Story 4," as well as classic films, such as "Gone With the Wind" and cult favorites like "The Blues Brothers."
Along with families who enjoy the bargain pricing, senior citizens appreciate the value of the $4 admission and low-cost snacks, as well, Skaff said.
"People can come and enjoy a night out and not break the bank," Skaff said.
The snacks menu includes everything for $3 each: popcorn, candy, fountain drinks (with free refills), bottled water, pizza by the slice and pepperoni rolls. Or avail of the combo bargain: popcorn, drink and candy for $8 total.
"You could bring a family of four here and have a good time for under $25 or $30," Skaff said.
Party packages are also available for private group or corporate showings at the LaBelle.
To keep tabs on upcoming films, visit the "Movies $4 Less at the LaBelle Theatre" Facebook page. Inquiries can also be directed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the theater at 304-767-0148.