MARATHON COMMUNITY CINEMA SET TO CELEBRATE GRAND REOPENING DEC. 22

After three months, Shaughn Collins is ready to welcome moviegoers back to the Marathon Community Cinema. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

The floors are painted, the popcorn is ready, and the brand-new air conditioning is blasting. After more than three months, Marathon’s silver screen is set to light up again.

Closed since Sept. 8, the Marathon Community Cinema will welcome DC Comics’ superhero blockbuster “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” at its grand reopening on Friday, Dec. 22.

“Streaming and Netflix make it easy to sit at home, but there’s nothing like the smell of movie theater popcorn and an evening with friends to watch a movie on the big screen,” said Joanne Zimmerman, president of the Marathon Community Theater, which operates the movie theater. “Welcome back to the cinema!”

The return to action – literally – marks a significant stride forward for the small nonprofit, as the cinema will reopen with a brand new air-conditioning unit installed by Florida Keys AC and Keys All Area Roofing. Carrying a price tag north of $40,000 following the failure of the cinema’s original unit in September, the install is the latest in a series of financial challenges to tackle for the longstanding community organization.

As the pre-opening ‘test screening’ crowd on Tuesday night will tell you, the Marathon Community Cinema is ready once again to show blockbusters on the big screen. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

Like many other buildings throughout Marathon, the cinema and its sister playhouse have contended since 2022 with spalling and electrical upgrades mandated by Marathon’s Existing Building Recertification (EBR) ordinance. 

Brought about as a result of Miami’s deadly Surfside condo collapse, the inspection requires detailed examination of the structural and electrical components of multistory buildings more than 17 years old – and for MCT, even though the building is safe to occupy, that means another $80,000 in spalling and electrical repairs, with a roof replacement estimated at more than $200,000 on the near horizon. A “Raise the Roof” capital campaign is already underway on MCT’s website (www.marathontheater.org) to defray the massive expenses..

Though putting an AC unit on a roof is best left to the pros, other critical tasks necessary for reopening required a small army of paid staff and volunteers, plenty of whom were ready to answer the call at the drop of a hat. A cleaning “party” on Dec. 10 found a crew of more than 20 attacking every corner of the cinema with spray bottles and mops in hand to eradicate construction dust, and a few days later, the entire floor had a fresh coat of paint.

Popcorn, soda, candy and a movie. Some things just go together. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

“The word ‘community’ is in our name for a reason,” said Zimmerman. “When we need our volunteers to step up, they are always more than willing, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without the efforts of every staff member, volunteer and board member who chipped in during this process.”

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” runs until Jan. 2 on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Patrons arriving early can enjoy TV88’s “The Marathon Florida Show,” beginning at 6 p.m., featuring businesses throughout the Middle Keys.

For more details, see the Marathon Community Cinema Facebook page or visit marathoncinema.com.

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.