Marengo Theater bought by local LLC

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Marengo Theater has been bought by a limited liability company (LLC) directed by Dr. Erik P. Lessmann of Demopolis from longtime owner Jerry Edwards of Thomasville. The amount of the deal was undisclosed, and it was finalized on Nov. 12.

Lessmann said that the Lessmann Properties LLC was derived from the trust fund for his children.

“The kids bought the theater, actually,” he said. “Officially, the LLC owns it, and the LLC is owned by the trust fund for my kids. What the theater is, is an entity to shelter them for their education. So, that will pay for their college.”

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Lessmann said the troubles involved with bringing his family to a theater in Tuscaloosa influenced his decision to buy the theater in Demopolis.

“As a dad of seven kids, going to Tuscaloosa, paying for the gas, paying for the popcorn and paying for the tickets for a family of nine is a chunk!” he said. “Here at the Marengo, we’ll have a small-town theater feel. We’ll have one movie a week, maybe two. We might show an early show and a late show. My hope is that it would be some kind of family entertainment during the week or on the weekends.”

Lessmann said that Sgt. Tim Soronen of the Demopolis Police Department would be the theater manager. Soronen was not available for comment.

Lessmann said that he thought about buying the theater when he visited the theater recently.

“After my illness, I took a weekend off, and took in a movie,” he said, “and I saw: ‘For sale — price reduced for quick sale,’ and I inquired about that. Again, I like the idea of having a theater in town instead of driving my family to Tuscaloosa.”

Lessmann said the theater is better than it was, and has other ideas for it.

“They have a game room in there, so you can play games,” he said. “They have a party room to rent out for birthday parties before the movie or following the movie, or just to celebrate in. So, that’s a way for folks to get together.

“I wouldn’t mind having the hospital coming out on Monday night to show patient education. I think it’s good for the people, it’s good for them (the hospital), it’s good for us — just a win-win situation. We’re having a showing for some second-graders next week. They’ll have the whole theater, and that’ll be kind of fun. I’d like to try to make sure that we have Christmas-themed movies around Christmas on the River, too. Maybe have a Spanish night once a month. That would be a good thing for the community. Just having fun.”

Lessmann said he didn’t want to charge more for concessions, but have more to offer instead of just popcorn and a drink.

With a family of nine, Lessmann hopes to ease the wallets of anyone locally who wants to see a movie. His background as a dad and his thoughts and ideas could make the Marengo Theater a community center for entertainment.

“Our drive is to make it a nice theater with a hometown feel,” he said.