The Call family has been in show business for five generations, almost 80 years. We began at the Capitol Theatre on Main Street in Brigham City, Utah. It was a family business then and it’s a family business today. Bill Call worked for his Grandpa at the Capitol Theatre just like his grandkids worked for him at the Kaysville Theatre. When Bill learned how to “thread” the projectors, he was required to stay in the booth the entire time the film ran, because in those days it was necessary to change the film reels every twenty minutes or so. If you were a good projectionist in those days you could change the reel while keeping the words matched up with the actor’s lips, and the audience would never realize you were even in the booth. This was the golden age of Hollywood. Bill watched all of the now classic movies from the tall metal stool in the projection booth.
Our Start in Show Business
Before Bill and Mary were married, they dated in the booth of the Capitol Theatre. Mary also worked as a ticket taker at the Capitol while she and Bill dated. Being a ticket taker is a post that Mary held at the movies for almost 50 years. Shortly after Bill and Mary were married they moved to California while Bill served in the Navy during the Korean War, leaving the Capitol Theatre to ultimately be run by Bill’s big sister Marilyn and her family. Once Bill and Mary, with their two sons, returned to Utah, they purchased the Roy Theatre and ran it as a “dollar theatre” with the slogan “Roy Theatre, always a dollar.” Bill and Mary ran the Roy Theatre and later the Spanish Fork Theatre with a dedication to innovation and excellent customer experiences. We were one of the very first theatres to offer the “large popcorn free refill.” Bill always claimed we were the first to bring the free refill to northern Utah. Another movie theatre innovation came later in Kaysville: the refillable movie theatre mug. And on this one, we are positive that we were the first movie theatre in Utah to provide this to our customers.
Making the Move to Kaysville
We love the small town loyal customers that support us here in Kaysville, but coming to run the Kaysville Theatre wasn’t originally part of the family business plan. In 1981 Bill “discovered” the Kaysville Theatre after his car broke down and he needed to take the bus to get from Salt Lake (where his real job was) to the Roy Theatre. When the bus stopped across the street, Bill saw the Kaysville Theatre sitting empty and thought to himself, “that’d be a fun theatre to own someday.” The next day he called around to see who owned the theatre and what the situation was. Barnes Bank held the title on the theatre, which had been sitting empty for several years. After leasing the theatre for a few years Bill and Mary bought the Kaysville theatre outright, and we’ve been here ever since.
During the depression Bill’s mother bought a caramel corn franchise for 100 dollars. It came with a copper kettle, popcorn table, wooden spoon, and a recipe book. The caramel corn was made and sold in the lobby of the Capitol Theatre. Bill learned the art of making caramel corn out of the copper kettle from his mother, and by the time Bill taught his daughter-in-law Lisa how to make it, two flavors—caramel and cinnamon—were already mastered and Bill was experimenting with cheese. Lisa took the little caramel corn kettle and turned it into her own business: Lisa’s Passion for Popcorn.
The Kaysville Theatre was built in the late forties and contains a certified fallout shelter in the basement. It was originally heated by a coal-fueled boiler, and had a traditional ticket booth outside. In 1990, the family decided to pool our resources and renovate the Kaysville Theatre to make this community our sole focus. So, with that in mind the Theatre was temporarily shut down for the addition of two more screens. Auditoriums two and three where originally Frost’s drug store and a flower shop, and the sloped hallway was a part of the original number one auditorium. Soon the late forties single screen movie theatre was transformed into the three screen Kaysville Theatre that you see today.
The Show Must Go On
After the addition of two more screens, running the upstairs booth was turned over to Bill and Mary’s grandkids one by one as they became tall enough to thread the film through the projectors. In the nineties, Bill and Mary established some of the theatre’s best known trademarks and traditions: the refillable theatre mug, serving popcorn and drinks during the fourth of July parade, and summer week day matinees. Along with keeping the theatre up to date they also worked to maintain the familiar, unique, and hometown elements of the theatre, like the world’s best popcorn, and the now famous “Gum on the Floor” clean-up trailer. We are still thrilled each time we hear the crowd shout “Eww!” back at the screen.
As the nineties came to a close Bill and Mary left to serve an LDS mission in Cambodia, at which time their children took the reins of running the theatre while they were gone. Once they came back, they were happy to keep letting the kids run the show. Since then the Kaysville Theatre has seen a few new coats of paint, new candy counters, and several uniform changes. But, the family-friendly customer experience has remained. From 1989 til 2010 the old projection booth changed very little. The old reliable 35mm film projectors rarely failed us and still put a great picture on the screen. However, the era of film was ending and we knew it. In an effort to prepare for the day when we would have to scrap the old film projectors for new digital ones, the sound system in all three auditoriums was replaced with digital surround sound in 2010.
On September 24, 2011 Bill Call passed away. With Bill’s passing we lost a father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and one of the best movie showmen ever. As a family we were overwhelmed by the support from our amazing customers during that time. Changes in technology finally pushed us to seriously consider upgrading to digital projection. This was a huge undertaking because movie projection technology had been relatively unchanged since Thomas Edison invented it 150 years ago. And so, for the first time in over 20 years the theatre closed—only temporarily—to allow us to change over all our upstairs equipment. On March 1, 2013 the Kaysville Theatre re-opened to boast brand new digital projectors, ensuring that we can keep providing our customers with the best low-cost movie-going experience. We know that this would thrill Bill, because as every great showman knows, “the show must go on!”
And, so we are thrilled to welcome you to the Kaysville Theatre. We hope that you enjoy your experience and come back and see us again soon. Because at the Kaysville Theatre, “We Are Family!”