PAGEDALE, Mo. (KMOX) – As the lights go down and the music swells, patrons of 24:1 Cinema on Page Avenue in north St. Louis, dig into their popcorn and prepare to be entertained for a couple of hours.
The same thing is happening at theaters all across the St. Louis region, but not quite the same way as this four-screen cinema that first opened up in late 2015.
First of all, its matinee costs only $5.50, with a top ticket price of $8.50 for first-run movies showing in prime time.
While sitting through some previews of coming attractions, Travis Jones, 19, talks about this being his first-ever trip to 24:1.
“It’s not an area I would expect a theatre to be in,” Jones says. “So, that’s cool.”
The theater is owned and operated by Beyond Housing, which spearheads what president and CEO Chris Krehmeyer describes as a “comprehensive community building effort.”
One question the theater hears often is why it opened in Pagedale, which had a violent crime rate four times the national average in 2015.
“Yeah, there was some head scratching,” Krehmeyer says. “People asked us ‘Why a movie theater?’ Our response is, when we think about the fabric of successful places it has entertainment, it has fun things to do. It doesn’t have just the basics like housing, access to groceries and those kinds of things.”
The cinema is part of a growing hub operated by Beyond Housing, which includes a nearby Save-A-Lot and a senior center with a full-service bank that sits right next door.
Pagedale resident Dione Culberson comes to 24-1 once a week with her mother.
“I love the area, first of all, the neighborhood,” Culberson says. “I also like the seating, it’s quiet, it’s clean, also the restrooms are clean. I love it here.”
Krehmeyer points out, it doesn’t hurt that one of the biggest movies of 2017 so far has been “Get Out” which he didn’t expect to do so well.
The same could be said for national box office success, “Hidden Figures.” Which brought in entire busloads of school children on field trips.
24:1’s influence has grown so quickly that it was recently featured in an article in the prestigious Hollywood section of the LA Times, and Krehmeyer believes that after a bit of a slow start they expect to turn a profit in just their their second full year of operation.
But mostly he says it’s about helping an underserved population.
“It’s a great entertainment venue for folks in this part of town, who don’t really have entertainment options,” Krehmeyer says. “If they want to see a movie, in particular, they’d usually have to go leave their community.”