BILLINGS- Ten months after the Billings historic Babcock Theatre closed for renovations, its doors will soon open again for the public to enjoy.
Thursday, Q2 News got an inside look before the public was invited for a grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday.
After four months of construction, a lot has changed but much of the historic charm stays the same.
“We are anxiously awaiting but also feverishly trying to get anything done for the big day,” said Brittany Stevens, marketing director for the Art House Cinema, which is managing the city-owned Babcock.
New paint and new carpet are just some of the small things volunteers took the time to work on over the last several weeks.
“We are calling this phase the lipstick and rouge phase,” said Stevens. “We have a lot of major remodeling still to do but our goal is to be open every single day as a movie theatre.
A new and brightly lit “Babcock” sign will also greet customers, once inside.
“It’s our wow factor,” said Stevens.
But there are also some 21st-century updates, according to Stevens as well, one is a fancy new projector system.
A new state-of-the-art 4-K laser projection and surround sound were a ‘must’ for the theater, as a way to revamp the image of the Babcock as a venue that specifically is known for movie watching. Now, the Babcock will officially be open seven days a week and play major box office hits.
“We want to establish our brand as a movie theater. So we will play movies first and foremost,” said Stevens.
Many have asked: is the era of concerts and special events at the Babcock is over?
“If in between films or if we are not showing something big during that time, I think eventually we will be open to renting the theatre out for concerts,” she said.
There is a new concession area, where beer and wine will be served. Tickets can be obtained online or from the original outdoor and retro-kept ticket booth, where an attendant will serve up tickets old-school style to customers.
Upstairs there is now a new ‘history hallway’ where there are vintage pictures and milestones important to the Babcock’s rich past.
Built, in 1907 the Babcock was home to many memorable ‘date-nights’ for Billings residents many of whom still recall to this day. It’s that kind of downtown vibe and attraction, Stevens said they want to bring back.
“Our heart was to turn it back into its original intent which was the movie theatre downtown to keep the marquee lit every single day and Invite people to come in, in the day and evenings bringing their date nights downtown,” she said.
The theatre seats 750 and its deemed the largest ‘movie palace’ in the state of Montana. The renovation is on a five-year schedule according to Stevens, meaning new updates and renovations will come over time as the venue stays open to the public.
Tickets will sell for $1 for the first weekend only, and additional donations are encouraged for the phase 2 capital campaigns, according to a recent release.
The grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony is planned to take place at 6:00 pm followed by a 7 p.m. viewing of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
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