Roxy reflects on record-setting year, plans to expand in 2020

MISSOULA - In a time where community and non-profit movie theaters are struggling to compete with streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus, it's been a record-setting year for the iconic Roxy Theater in Missoula.

In the last decade, the Roxy's undergone some major face-lifts. With the start of the new decade, there are more renovations underway including plans to expand.

There's nothing like going to the movies, grabbing some popcorn, triple organic at the Roxy and watching a film on the big screen. An experience you can't get at home.

"There's something very genuinely human about that experience," Roxy Theater Executive Director Mike Steinberg said. "We're gonna sit here, we're going to experience this together, we're going to laugh about it together, we're going to cry. We're all going to take it in in that moment in time when it happens."

When it happens, when you go to the Roxy on Higgins Avenue, you're buying more than just a movie ticket. 

"I think it's an experience, but it's ultimately an experience of authenticity," Steinberg said. "The people who are running this place are doing it because they're passionate about what they're doing. They love movies, they love the community."

The Roxy's been part of the community since 1937, and was fully operational until a fire destroyed the building in 1994. 

Then in 2001, the International Wildlife Film Festival bought the building and continues operations as the home case of the festival.

In 2013, the Roxy launched year-round programming when Steinberg took over. Since then, the attendance at the Roxy has been growing like crazy.

"As of this last fiscal year, 76,000 people came to the Roxy Theater. It felt like we hit a real milestone because that's the population of Missoula," Steinberg said. 

As Steinberg reflects on the rich history of the Roxy, he's also looking forward to the new decade to come, and with it plans to expand next door to add an additional fourth screening room. 

There will be 30 seats in the new screening room with its own concession stand. Steinberg said the expansion means even more people can enjoy the Roxy experience. 

"It's especially gratifying because we're doing it as a community benefit," Steingberg said. "We're doing it for Missoula because we want this to be in Missoula. It's clear by the response that people want us to be here doing what we're doing."

The Roxy is a place where the community comes together to laugh and cry. It's more than just a theater, but as Steinberg said it's an experience, which is what makes the Roxy Theater this week's Montana Treasure. 

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