World’s oldest cinema staying open through pandemic

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OTTAWA, Kan. (KSNT)- The title of the World’s Oldest Operating Purpose Built Cinema is in the possession of the Plaza Cinema in Ottawa, Kan. The Guinness World Records recognized the theater’s age and historical value in 2017. 

The theater began showing movies in 1905 but had to temporarily shut down. When the cinema began showing movies, silent films ruled the world as well as black and white films. They’ve successfully been in operation for the longest time out of any theater in the world because they didn’t burn down like other old theaters due to the overheating of older film systems. The old film set-up at Plaza Cinema was in a concrete room which helped keep the motors from overheating.

Fast forward to the present day and they’re surviving the pandemic as best as they can.

“It’s already been through a pandemic, right?” owner Scott Zaremba said. “We started actually in 1905, so it’s been through one. You know what, it’s not a big deal we’re going to make it through another one. So we’ve been able to keep it open and keep it operating through private events because we’re able to social distance.”

Zaremba said he doesn’t fear the theater will shut down because they offer more than a typical movie theater. They’re offering a spot for people to watch the Chiefs play in the ‘big game’ on the ‘big screen.’

“The theater is for rent for any event,” he said. “Be it that you want to watch the local basketball game, you want to watch the wrestling tournament, you want to watch whatever it is. You can watch it here anything that’s live-streamed you can watch. We have the theater available to rent for the Super Bowl.”

Not only does the theater offer movies and private events, but there is also a memorabilia museum where you can take a tour and see Hollywood’s nicest preserved artifacts.

In the future, Zaremba hopes to make the upstairs into an Airbnb for people to rent out and watch their own movies in the two theaters that they offer.

Even though the theater is surviving, it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t use your help. You can help the Plaza Cinema continue its historical success by donating, taking a museum tour and buying movie posters directly from the theater itself or on their website.

For more information on how you can reserve the theater, click here.

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