Improvements included upgrades to the long-substandard sound system and a conversion to digital projection, including 3-D capability for the theater’s next film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” More work on the theater is planned before summer.
Tucumcari natives Christy Dominguez, a former office worker at Mesalands Community College, and Robert Lopez, a farmer, decided to buy the theater after going on a date there and noting it had been for sale for years. They closed on the property in April from longtime owner Ramon Martinez and shuttered the theater in mid-September to begin renovations.
Dominguez, who also is the theater’s general manager, said in a telephone interview work included repairing, repainting or reupholstering the theater’s 385 seats, new tile and carpeting, new acoustic tiles on the walls, and cleanup and repairs to the lobby and bathrooms.
Dominguez said they were mindful of not changing the 1937 theater to endanger its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. “We wanted to maintain the historical integrity,” she said.
Dominguez declined to say how much money they spent overhauling the Odeon, other than it was “substantial.” Despite that, the cost of an adult ticket when the theater opens Friday will be $6 — an increase of just 50 cents before the Odeon closed in the fall.
She said they may close the theater again in the spring for a few more weeks of work, including repainting the exterior. They will apply for a state historical preservation grant for some of that.
The theater’s balcony remains closed, but Dominguez said they intend to eventually convert it into a VIP section, with reclining seats and other amenities.
Dominguez said the theater is contractually obligated to show just one new movie per week, despite the flexibility of digital. However, they hooked up a Blu-ray player to the projector so the Odeon can screen old movies on special occasions. She gave John Wayne films as a treat for some of the senior citizens in town as an example.
Dominguez noted the theater’s viability has increased since the closing of the historic Pecos Theatre in nearby Santa Rosa, N.M., in 2011. The Odeon remains the only theater within a 90-mile radius; the closest is in Clovis, N.M.
Although it sits a half-mile north of Route 66, Dominguez says the Odeon gets its share of Mother Road tourists referred from the Blue Swallow Motel, Motel Safari, Del’s Restaurant and other businesses. Because of the theater’s improvements and its historic nature, she expects that number to increase.
(Photos of the Odeon Theatre courtesy of Christy Dominguez)