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Garrettsville Cinema as seen from Garfield PlazaGarrettsville – Just like in the movies, a daring young man takes a big risk, putting his personal and professional assets at stake. Will the big gamble take him down or will he overcome every obstacle and eventually come out on top?

Justin Dlugokecki is that young man. He took ownership of the defunct Garrettsville Cinema in Garfield Plaza and re-opened it in March 2014, during a time when small, independent theaters were closing down rather than investing $50,000 – $80,000 per screen to upgrade from 35-millimeter to digital film.

“We saw the potential for the Garrettsville Cinema and chose to invest in it,” Dlugokecki says. His investment is paying off. Attendance at the theater is up over 60% from last year and 70% over 2013. Patrons generally come from throughout Portage and Geauga counties, often forgoing the corporate multiplex options nearby for the more reasonably-priced hometown theater in Garrettsville.

“This is due, in large part, to the great line-up of movies that came out over the summer: American Sniper, Jurassic World, Fast 7, and Minions to name a few. We are one of the higher grossing independent theaters in the area (but there are not too many independent operations left),” Dlugokecki says. “I also think it has to do with our prices staying low, and keeping it affordable to bring a family out for an evening.”

Since re-opening the theater, Dlugokecki has overseen many improvements and changes at the cinema: cleaning the building; painting and carpeting the interior; installing new projectors, new surround sound systems, arcade games and a new concession area. Over the past year, all of the seats in all three show rooms have been replaced, and the bathrooms are now being upgraded.

Next, Dlugokecki is considering expanding the offerings at the concession counter, replacing the actual movie screens, adding 3D projection to one of the screens, and adding more poster panels to display upcoming movies on the exterior of the building.

Meanwhile, the holiday season kicks off for movie theaters on November 20 with the opening of Hunger Games. Disney will release The Good Dinosaur on Thanksgiving, and then Disney will release Star Wars on December 18. Garrettsville Cinema will be showing all of them with expanded hours through the holidays. The cinema will be open the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving night. They will feature expanded showtimes throughout Christmas break.

New this season, the cinema is offering reloadable gift cards that can be used at Garrettsville Cinema as well as the Andover Showplace theater, also owned by Dlugokecki. As a special offer, if you buy a $10 gift certificate from the Garrettsville Cinema, you will also get a $10.00 gift certificate to Roller Hutt.

No Risky Business here. The Garrettsville Cinema is a Sure Thing.

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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.