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Cinemagic Theatre in Athens up for sale

Community staple since 1997
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:30 AM CDT
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ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - After a long, successful career in the movie industry, Ralph Freehauf is selling his prized possession: Cinemagic Theatre. The local hotspot in Athens has been a community staple for more than 20 years.

“Watching a movie on a big screen like we have here is how the director and the filmmakers want you to see it,” Freehauf said. “You cannot get the same effect on your laptop or on your cell phone. Even your biggest TV inside your home is nothing compared to what you can enjoy at a movie theater.”

Cinemagic Theatre’s drive-in portion opened in 1997, featuring the one and only Jurassic Park! The indoor theater opened in 2006.

As you can imagine, the pandemic hurt the movie industry in more ways than one. Although Cinemagic Theatre has been able to recover, Freehauf said business has not been the same since before March 2020. He’s thankful for his regular customers, such as the former tax assessor in town who brings theater employees chocolate chip cookies every so often.

Over the years, Freehauf has adapted to changing market trends and competed against at-home streaming services. He’s brought in new devices, 3D formats and more. He even installed a bacteria killing device in their HVAC units to ensure customers are safe.

“When you own a business, there are challenges every day, sometimes every minute,” Freehauf said. “You’ve got to learn what is expected and how to go about things.”

His decision to sell the place was not easy, but he wants somebody young and creative to help keep the only theater in Athens alive. Freehauf said it’s going to take a person who has great vision and sees the possibilities that still exist in the movie industry.

“Movie theaters provide great value,” Freehauf said. “You are sitting with other people. When it comes time to laugh, the whole auditorium laughs with you. When it comes time to cry, the whole auditorium cries with you...Movies will be here for a long time.”

Cinemagic Theatre has been on the market since October and is selling for $1.75 million. Freehauf said he’s not rushing the process because he wants to find somebody to take great care of the theater, the same way he has since 1997.

“If you don’t come here, go see a movie on the big screen tonight,” Freehauf said. “It’s so much better than watching a movie on your cell phone or your laptop or your computer screen. You gotta come to a movie theater to really experience a movie.”

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