Kearney native and successful Hollywood screenwriter Jon Bokenkamp says the World Theatre is where he first fell in love with movies, so when the landmark closed down in 2008, he made it his mission to bring it back to life.
"This theatre was going to be empty if somebody didn't do something, and I was very fortunate to have some very lovely board members come on board and stand by for four years trying to see this through," Bokenkamp said. "But the whole process was about making a statement and making this more of a landmark downtown as opposed to an empty building."
And that empty building had seen better days. Built in 1927, it was going to take more than just a little elbow grease to get it audience-ready again.
"It was moldy and mildewed and smelly and dank and dirty, and literally when they closed the doors they took the screens, locked the doors and walked away -- so we had our work cut out for us," Brad Driml, World Theatre Foundation treasurer, said.
But hard work alone wasn't enough to open the World Theatre's doors again; they were also going to need money, and a lot of it. That's where the community came in.
"The World Theatre has an emotional attachment for a lot of people so it's not just people locally -- there's a pretty wide range of folks who don't even live here anymore who donated to see this happen," Driml said.
Bokenkamp's hope is that the theatre will inspire people to watch movies differently.
"We want to not only entertain, but enrage and incite and excite and get people involved in a conversation about film, not just an at-arms-length experience of watching movies, but to talk about them and to suggest them to us and to start a really exciting dialogue," he said.
The project cost nearly $1 million to complete.