After creating and owning Kingston’s Firehouse Theater for 12 years, owner Craig Smith has sold the business to former Los Angeles-area comic book editor Terry Delegeane and his wife Donna, who moved to the area in 2020.
While Delegeane wants to keep it much the same, he’s also talking of working with local restaurants for movie and meal nights, showing more independent movies and expanding the building to show live theater.
Smith was looking to sell to focus on his health and spend more time with his wife, who is retiring. Smith still plans to coach Kingston High School boys soccer next year.
“He’s always wanted to have a movie theater,” Smith said of Delegeane. “He loves film and really liked our theater. He was the first one to talk to me about buying it.”
Delegeane, 59, bought the business for $175,000, a “reasonable price.” He takes over July 1.
“I got a lot more in the place than what (I sold) for,” Smith said. “My main thing was to make sure it stayed open for the community.”
Although he’s keeping the Firehouse name and wants to keep a lot of things the same, there are a few changes Delegeane is planning.
“That’s kind of what the legacy of the building is and what Craig has started,” he said about the Firehouse name. “I like the hominess of it but certainly, there are ways we can maybe draw more attention to it. I’d like to get some better signage. We just got to find more ways to make it seem more prominent. Even when you drive past it seems so hidden.”
Finding out what the community wants to see and balancing the types of films that are shown are some of the first priorities for Delegeane.
“Obviously, there are big movies you want to show but they can’t really compete with the bigger theaters. I’m going to need to figure out what the community is looking for and also what I can give to the community that they didn’t know what they were looking for. I’d like to try and become more of an independent arthouse kind of theater but still have a balance.”
Delegeane said he has a friend in Los Angeles who is a movie booker that will help him with the selection of films.
“He has a wealth of experience in independent art films and how to work the system,” he said. “I’d like to think that we’re going to show family films, do some film retrospective’s occasionally, and have some genre-specific things. I’d like to add a Sunday night horror night. I’m pretty wide open because I want to see what will draw different types of people.”
Down the road, Delegeane wants to “put in some theatrical lighting in the bigger theater with the possibility of using the space for live music or live theatrical entertainments.”
He also wants to find ways to incorporate local bars and restaurants into the theater.
“I’m really looking forward to investing in the community,” he said. “Maybe trying to work with some of the local businesses, feature some of the local beers, do meal and movie deals with some of the local restaurants.”
The last few months, Delegeane has been volunteering at the theater and job-shadowing Smith to understand the responsibilities of the owner of a small theater. He’s going to keep two of the current staff since they “know what they’re doing.” He also lauded Smith for how helpful he has been.
“Just kind of learning the ropes, learning how the box office system works,” the new owner said. “He wants this to succeed. This was his dream. I just feel like I’m trying to continue his dream. He is just a film lover who wanted to run a movie theater, and I have nothing but respect for that.” Smith will still be around to help and will be doing his own private screenings on occasion.
Before moving to their small farm near Poulsbo, the Delegeanes lived in the L.A. area where Terry was the managing editor of a comic book company for almost 30 years. He still freelances for comic editing and writing. Prior to that, he worked in public relations for Turner Broadcasting System where one of his main jobs was to help set up and tear down screenings for Turner projects. Donna is a nurse practitioner in Silverdale. Before moving, Delegeane mentioned to her that if they ever move somewhere it needs to be near a place with a small-town theater that he could run.
“It’s kind of amazing,” Delegeane said. “Suddenly she transfers to a job here, and there’s this little movie theater around the corner.”
About a week after moving here, Delegeane said he caught wind of the CBS Sunday Morning news special about the theater that aired in early 2020. He said he saw Smith’s GoFundMe page that mentioned he might need to retire in a few years and was looking to sell. After Delegeane and his friends rented out the theater last October for a showing of the classic horror film “Psycho,” Smith mentioned to them that he was trying to sell. In February, Delegeane told Smith that he was interested in buying.
Smith said he is grateful that he met someone who is as passionate about running a small-town theater as he was.
“The area’s growing, there’s more potential,” Smith said. “I hope there’s a continued appreciation for the art form and the need for people to gather to see something in a shared, emotional response. I feel fortunate to have met Terry and find someone with a similar dream or his own dream about an art form that a community deserves to have. It seems to be fading out in a lot of places.”