How 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Is Helping the Catlow Theater Survive
Peterson, Eric, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Eric Peterson Daily Herald Staff Writer
Hosting a big, fat Greek wedding seven nights a week this summer is proving to be the perfect marriage for the historic but long financially troubled Catlow Theater in Barrington.
About 18 months ago, co-owners Tim O'Connor and Roberta Rapata began voicing their concerns about the 75-year-old movie house's ability to survive much longer as a second-run theater.
And many area residents who've been listening to the gloom-and- doom predictions of the theater's demise for well over a year might be scratching their heads over the long lines and crowded aisles at the still surviving business.
Much of the reason the theater has hung on this long is through the success of the jointly owned Boloney's sandwich shop next door, which has long borne the burden of keeping both businesses going - and never more so than in the last two years.
But the summer of 2002 is indeed proving kinder to the old-time cinema than any time during the whole of 2001, O'Connor said.
And a big part of that is the success it's still enjoying from the film "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding."
"We were kind of baffled ourselves," O'Connor said. "We've mostly been doing poor to fair, but this one has been stellar."
Though it's too early to say exactly what the winning characteristics of this film are and how they can be shopped for in the future - the family appeal? the PG rating? -O'Connor already knows that it has drawn more first-time visitors to the Catlow than the theater has seen in a long time.
The movie has now been playing at the theater for more than three weeks and continues to draw an audience. David Nelson, a member of the steering committee for the potential not-for-profit group trying to buy the Catlow, said the screening he attended a few weeks ago was as full as he'd seen the theater in a very long time.
Shortly after O'Connor and Rapata made their public appeal for the rescue of the Catlow in the winter of 2001, community forces were rallied to the cause.
After the plans of a first group of potential investors fell through, the village's recently convened Save the Historic Catlow Committee began leading a charge to rescue the Barrington landmark by authorizing a study of possible future uses and drawing up the bylaws for a potential not-for-profit agency that might run the theater as a community arts center. …