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Documentary film about Polson Theatres, Inc. screens on Dec. 27

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News from David W. King Pictures

POLSON — Ever wondered what it takes to run an independent Theatre chain in a rural Montana market? A new documentary film titled “A Theatre Near You” profiles a fun-loving family that owns and operates just such a theatre chain – spread across eight Montana and Idaho towns and presenting films on 22 screens. Polson’s Howard Pickerill and his wife, Ayron have owned and operated Polson Theatres, Inc. for 52 years. Howard started his career working as an usher at a Polson, Montana, movie theatre some 70 years ago, and his daughter Becky Dupuis and her husband Gary Dupuis took over the regional movie empire’s day-to-day operations around 2013.

The idea for making A Theatre Near You was first suggested to filmmaker David W. King by Howard Pickerill when the two men ran into each other at Polson’s Lake City Bakery, which was fittingly the subject of the King’s last documentary film, Baked by Grace. Initially, David wasn’t sure he was game to pursue the project. King offers, “It takes months to plan, shoot, and then edit a project of this nature. I wasn’t sure I was up to tackling this one.”  Upon further consideration, however, David and his producing partner and wife Jessica thought there might be “something there.” King soon approached the Pickerills and Dupuis and proposed that he and Jessica go ahead and produce an hour-long documentary film about their movie Theatre business and the family legacy behind it. 

In addition to Baked by Grace, David W. King Pictures produced the documentary film Burgers, Fries & Family Ties, which profiles Polson’s beloved Richwine’s Burgerville. That award-winning film is available for rental on Amazon Prime Video and airs periodically on MontanaPBS. The Kings love Americana stories, so A Theatre Near You struck them as a worthwhile next project. 

David explains, “None of these three films were made with financial compensation. We have paid work, which is a wonderful thing. Then there are what we call ‘passion projects’ and those are the ones that engage our minds and hearts on a more visceral level. They represent stories that few people could afford to tell if they had to pay people like us to tell them, but they’re very personal pieces that are moving, heartwarming, and worth telling. We’re grateful to be in a position that enables us to allocate the time and resources to breathe life into these kinds of more intimate, earthy stories.

Howard Pickerill shares the following in A Theatre Near You: “It is a business of faith. You have to have the faith. Otherwise, it just don’t work. That’s all there is to it.” As independent filmmakers, the Kings can relate.

About the upcoming Polson screening, King offers, “That week nestled between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often a bit of a haze as far as coming up with ‘things to do’ goes. We thought it would be fun to offer the community some hometown entertainment and share this multigenerational family’s personal and professional stories, as told by them and those who know and love them.” King continues, “If you’ve lived in this region for a while, you’ll likely see people you know in this film. And, if you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of an independent theatre chain, A Theatre Near You will provide a fun glimpse into that unique showbiz world and the people behind it.”

The details: the free public screening of A Theatre Near You is at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 27 at the Showboat Stadium 6, which is located in Polson, Montana at 416 Main Street. Refreshments will be available at the concession stand at regular prices. The filmmakers and most of the people featured in the film will be in attendance, so there will be ample opportunity to enjoy the film and then visit in the lobby following the show. While the film’s content is family friendly, it will be of limited appeal to the very young. All are welcome. 

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