By Eric Rasmussen
The Varsity Theater will be retired as a movie venue and dedicated to university programming needs starting Fall Semester 2001.
After 37 years as a commercial movie theater, declining attendance and a growing need for programming space motivated the change, said David A. Hunt, assistant administrative vice president for Student Auxiliary Services.
The theater began a test phase in 1998 when administrators decided not to show edited movies anymore.
“That period became a trial period to see if the attendance would be high enough to merit showing films,” said Carri Jenkins, assistant to the president for university communications. “We just feel like the space could be put to better use.”
The space will retain its movie screen, projection booth and projector for movie screenings on special occasions, according to a university news release.
Former BYU student Rochelle Youngblut wishes the Varsity Theater weren”t closing.
“We live in married student housing and I know that a lot of people like to take advantage of those cheap movies,” Youngblut said.
The Varsity Theater, located in the Wilkinson Student Center, opened in 1964. Some of the first movies shown at the theater were “Don”t Go Near the Water,” “The Wackiest Ship in the Army,” and Alfred Hitchcock”s “The Birds.” It seats 400 people and has been used as a meeting space for student wards and a secondary screening sight for forums and devotionals, lectures, conference sessions and firesides, Jenkins said.