The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 12, 2012

Movie showings earn fans, friends for couple

By Zech
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — With a dedicated following and an expanding venue, Joplin Electric Theatre promises to prove its worth as a small beast among very large beasts.

Established by husband and wife Chad and Jennifer McKeough, Joplin Electric Theatre currently presents two screenings each month at the Vinery Event Center, located at 120 S. Main St.

October’s selections include “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” scheduled for Saturday, and a double feature consisting of “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Rammbock: Berlin Undead” on Oct. 27.

“(‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’) is about a family in Louisiana that is very poverty stricken,” Jennifer McKeough said. “I think it’s from the viewpoint of a child, because that’s where ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ comes from. This child thinks, ‘I am a small beast among very large beasts.’ Some of the large beasts being (metaphorically) poverty, housing, clothing.”

The theater has had its own share of large beasts to face, including finding stable housing and dealing with technical difficulties. Saturday’s movie wasn’t available in modern formats -- only on 35 mm or VHS, McKeough said.

McKeough said that she and her husband invested in equipment to screen the film. They have also invested in a new sound system for the theater.

“Right at this point we’ve purchased what we’ve needed as we’ve gone on,” McKeough said. “I’ve been talking with some landlords on Main Street. We’ve got some really exciting options coming up for finding a location where we can have more movies and be more efficient.”

McKeough said that the theater’s ultimate goal would be to present films each weekend on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Despite the desire to expand, they are not aiming to compete with bigger local theaters such as Northstar 14.

“We have a following of people, and that following brings friends,” Mrs. McKeough said. “So, what we’re striving to do right now is provide a good, quality service that will keep people coming.”

The McKeoughs experienced difficulty with audio during a few of their first screenings at the former Vinery. New audio equipment has been installed since that time, though the initial problems didn’t deter their committed fan base.  

“I had about 25 people come in for ‘The Artist,’” McKeough said. “We had to give half of their money back because the sound system wouldn’t work. One lady says ‘I’m not leaving. I want to see it, this isn’t bothering me any.’ So we played it and we offered everyone’s money back, and nobody took it back.”

The screening for Oct. 27 includes two different types of movies. The contrasting pairing is more than coincidence, Chad McKeough said.

“I was trying to do two zombie films for Halloween, but my wife vetoed one of them,” Chad McKeough said, laughing. “She wants to show ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ just so people can come and see that movie, and then if they don’t want to see a gory zombie film they can leave after that movie is done.”

“Moonrise Kingdom” is a dramatic comedy by Wes Anderson that details the struggle of a young couple who escape into the wilderness, stirring their hometown into a panic as denizens frantically search for the young lovers. The film stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton. It’s rated PG-13.

“Rammbock: Berlin Undead” details the endeavors of Michael as he travels to Berlin to visit his ex-girlfriend. During his trip, a viral outbreak transforms the Berliners into mindless undead. To Michael’s surprise, his ex is absent from her apartment -- a teenager named Harper instead is there.

Michael and Harper work together fortifying the apartment in a desperate struggle to stay alive. The film is rated R.