More than 1,500 eager movie-goers came out to support the opening of the Met Cinema last Friday through Monday. Although the theater was scheduled to open at 12:30 p.m. Friday, some technical hiccups delayed the afternoon showings but movies were playing across all five screens at 9:30 and 10 p.m.
Brenda Negley and her children Ben, 13, and Brooke, 10, waited in the parking lot of the Met Cinema for an hour and a half in order to be the first people in line for the theater's opening day.
Brenda said she was thrilled about the theater re-opening, adding they've missed a lot of movies since it closed in November.
"I'm really appreciative of Matt Sconce and his friends for doing this," Brenda said.
Sconce, along with James Nelson and Keith Walker, banded together as Met Heroes to try and save the theater after it closed Nov. 1. They created a membership program as a way to save the theater and were able to reach their goal of 3,000 members, enabling them to re-open the Met's doors.
Since then they have been busy doing everything from programming theater software and updating equipment to deep cleaning all the theater's chairs and carpets and repairing bathrooms.
"Everybody seemed to love the theater renovation," Sconce said. "People were happy and smiling and it was great to see the mountain theater back alive and people enjoying movies again."
The theater now has its own coffee shop and lounge featuring a variety of espresso drinks, milkshakes and snowcone smoothies -- original creations by Jerry Caputo of Mariposa Coffee Company. The cafe will be open 9 a.m. to close Thursday through Sunday to allow people to stop by for a drink even when movies aren't showing.
"We've had an amazing response from the community after coming out of the theater, saying it's so clean and that we have the best caramel macchiato they've ever had," Sconce said.
Ron and Brenda Cruz of Long Beach were some of those excited about the theater's re-opening. They said they visit Oakhurst a few times a year and were sad when they heard the theater had closed.
"This town needs this theater," Ron said. "We came up in November and it broke our hearts to see it had closed. I'm so glad they (Sconce, Walker and Nelson) jumped on this. They are heroes."
John Elstner, who stopped by to pick up his membership card Friday along with his wife, Julie, said he never was much of a movie-goer. He decided to become a member, though, just to be part of the community and help save the theater.
Friends Mildred Hewitt and Carole Rowe were excited to see the award winning, "Lincoln." They both said they've missed having the theater because it's a good place for seniors to go.
"It's a wonderful thing to have for us to do," Rowe said. "We've been anxiously waiting for it to reopen. They've done a wonderful job for the town by taking it on themselves to make this happen."
Sconce said he is hopeful two of the five screens will be "digital" for Friday's grand opening.
Sconce said people are still coming in and signing up to be members and can continue to do so. People coming in to pick up their membership cards should do so before they try to go to a movie so they don't get held up in a line taking their membership photo ID, which could cause them to miss the start of a movie.
Movies will show in the theater at least a week and at least two movies will change out every Friday. This Friday, three new movies will be added -- "Safe Haven," "Identify Thief" and "Oz: The Great and Powerful."
"There are so many people to thank that helped make this happen," Sconce said. "Special thanks to Sheila Kliewer, Geoff Wilford and Ed Hart for their assistance in the re-opening."
Movie times can be found at savethemet.com. The phone will also be in service soon at (559) 683-1234.
Red Carpet Grand Opening Friday
Even though the theater opened March 1, the official red carpet grand opening event will begin tomorrow (Friday) at 7:30 p.m. Sconce is encouraging the community to attend the Fresno Flats wine tasting event at 5:30 p.m. (See page A4), then head over to the Met at 7:30 p.m.
"It's just a social hour of Met Heroes dressed in their finest and enjoying the theater that's back to life," Sconce said.
The social hour will be followed by Disney's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" at 9 p.m. Seats for "Oz" will be on a first come, first serve basis. Movie-goers can also attend other late movies at the theater.