Now playing in Wills Point: The last picture show

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by JONATHAN BETZ

wfaa.com

Posted on October 3, 2010 at 10:16 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 4 at 4:37 PM

Majestic Theatre

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WILLS POINT — A movie theater built in the time of silent films caused a sensation when it transitioned to "talking pictures."

Now — after 84 years — the legendary Majestic Theatre in Wills Point is going out of business.

After being operated by three generations of the same family, it will be missed by an entire community.

"We wanted to come and see one of the last shows," said moviegoer Jennifer Wheeler, who wanted to be part of history. "It's no fun."

Despite the comedy playing on the screen, few were in the mood to laugh, knowing.. they were watching the end of one of the state's oldest movie theaters.

"I know it's coming for a couple of years, but you're not ready for it," said Majestic employee John Allen. "It's still real tough."

Allen first visited the Majestic as a child. He's been working there for the past 20 years.

"For a long time, I didn't know there was anything besides single-screen theaters, much less those big multiplexes," he said.

But those multiple screen movie palaces proved too thrilling for movie-goers, and so Majestic owner Karl Lybrand decided the last picture show will be on Monday.

Lybrand still sells tickets at the box office of the theater opened by his grandfather 84 years ago. That makes it one of the longest-running family-owned theaters in the country.

The Majestic it's still filled with throwbacks, showing only one movie a night for the $5 admission, generally geared towards families.

Theater patron Mikah Gardner loves the Majestic. "This is where we, our moms go, for girls' night," she said.

But times have changed in Wills Point, a town of 4,000 located 50 miles east of Dallas, and people simply quit coming.

"It just kind of makes you get a lump in your throat in a way, because it's a sad thing," said Wills Point resident Donna Tarrant.

And so the Majestic Theatre, a part of Texas history, fades to black.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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