As a reaction to the lack of new Hollywood films, Wilton, New Hampshire’s Town Hall Theatre is leaving the 21st century entirely by dedicating an entire week’s worth of programming to silent comedy classics.
When the two-screen Town Hall Theatre reopened in early July after a nearly four-month shutdown, they did so with recent releases that failed to bring in audiences—or, in some cases, audience singular, as there were evening shows without a single ticket sold.
“We’ve been ready to go, but we can’t run a movie theater without movies,” said owner/operator Dennis Markaverich.
To that end, the independent Town Hall Theatre has entered into an intermission—and will come out on Monday, August 10 with Silent Film Comedy Week. Markaverich was inspired to shift gears in programming by a July screening of 1921’s The Three Muskerteers, part of the theater’s ongoing weekend silent film series. The screening for that film drew 50 attendees, Town Hall’s largest turnout since reopening.
“I hope we’ll be back to showing first-run features after Labor Day,” said Markaverich. “In the meantime, it says a lot about the state of Hollywood’s output, and the lack of support for independent cinemas, that we have to turn to century-old comedies to keep from going dark or closing for good.”
Silent Film Comedy Week runs from Monday, Aug. 10 through Friday, Aug. 14, with a different show every night at 7:30 p.m. All shows will feature live music from accompanist Jeff Rapsis.
The schedule for Silent Film Comedy Week is:
- Monday, Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.: ‘The General‘ (1926) starring Buster Keaton
- Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m.: ‘Tramp, Tramp, Tramp‘ (1926) starring Harry Langdon
- Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m.: ‘The Kid‘ (1921) starring Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan
- Thursday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m.: ‘Grandma’s Boy‘ (1922) starring Harold Lloyd
- Friday, Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m.: ‘Steamboat Bill Jr.‘ (1928) starring Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence