Aztec Shawnee Theater is showing its first film in forty-seven years tomorrow night: The original 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi. It’s been ninety years since the film was first shown at Aztec Theater.
Located on the main drag in Shawnee, Aztec Theater stirred major enthusiasm when it announced its reopening earlier this year. The theater was refurbished in an art deco style meant to look like it did when it first opened, and it has been largely functioning as a musical venue and event space since its reopening.
The small theater was built in 1927, just a few years before it showed Dracula for the first time and right after the switchover from silent to sound in the American film industry. “We started working on getting rights to show Dracula back in August and figured Halloween would be a good time to show the classic monster movie,” says Chris Calkins, one of the theater’s owners.
With its vintage restoration and commitment to the classics, Aztec Theater is like a portal to another time. “A lot of people remember movies from when they were first shown here,” Calkins says.
The last movie Calkins saw at Aztec Theater before it closed in 1974 was The Cowboys. “It was 1972, and I was ten years old when I walked over with some of the neighborhood kids to see the John Wayne film,” Calkins says. And he plans to show more of the classics in the future—old westerns like The Cowboys, love stories, sci-fi films, and monster movies.
The showing of Dracula on Wednesday, October 27 is sold out. But if you want to catch an encore showing of Dracula at Aztec Theater, you can purchase tickets online for November 10.