Because while everyone in Lawrence knows how incredibly bad the South Wind 12 movie theater there sucks, they need help in calling attention to the situation. Do they ever.
And here’s why.
You’re about to to read online quotes that you won’t believe from people who’ve seen movies at the South Wind. The theater – errected by deceased AMC chieftain Stan Durwood‘s brother Richard Durwood in 1997 – looks fine…from the outside. Inside’s another matter. The seating is cramped, unkempt and uncomfortable, the theater is dirty and the quality of the projection, you-name-it is majorly substandard.
Worse yet, it’s all Lawrence has!
Recently Lawrence Journal World reporter Chad Lawhorn had a chance to help remedy the situation when he interviewed the South Wind’s new owners Regal Entertainment.The same guys that run the also old, but vastly better movieplex at Station Casino.
However instead of calling Regal out and getting the company to address the South Wind’s mulitudinous shortcomings, Lawhorn tap danced around the issues and wrote a column lede lamely joking about smuggling candy and popcorn poppers into the theater.
Look, there’s a time and a place to joke around – I do it regularly, try to anyway – but this was not one of those times. Not with Lawrence stuck in the cinematic Stone Ages. Not with but a single crappy theater there in sore need of repair or more likely replacement. Not with a well-deserved tide of negative opinion washing over the outdated South Wind on the internet and among locals.
“They have the MOST uncomfortable seats EVER,” reads one review of the South Wind on the Journal World‘s own website. “The auditoriums are dirty and cramped, and usually the movies are out of focus. I brought some friends of mine from out-of-town here for a movie, and I was apologizing the whole time for how bad the seats are.”
“This movie theater is very run-down and I think they could use some healthy competition,” reads the lone other comment about the South Wind on the Journal World‘s site.
Is it possible Lawhorn failed to notice that 100 percent of the comments on his newspaper’s web site were wildly negative? Even though they paled by comparison to the beating the South Wind is taking on Yelp.
“Horrible experience. Overpriced and uncomfortable,” reads one.
“Most everything in previous reviews is true, from the very outdated interior to the horribly cramped seats with less leg room than a dining table at a convention of NBA players,” reads another. “While I’m sure the seats had some cushioning when they were originally installed 15 years ago, that’s probably the last time they were comfortable.”
“You may experience such mediocrity in your viewing experience as to completely block all memory of a film,” adds a third. “Someone will say, ‘Hey, what was that Tarantino movie with the Nazis and stuff?’ Or ‘Oh… You know that Wes Anderson cartoon-type thing?’ Your mind will drift back to where you first viewed such a film. You will remember the stiff chair backs. The arm rests that cannot be moved in order to squeeze any additional comfort from the poor seating. You will remember the dim sound and visual display, the lifeless looking teenagers manning (or not) the snack bar or ticket collection booth. (All) you will remember the sense of absolute disappointment on entering and, yes, leaving the theater.”
And this from Tom K of San Francisco:
“I will avoid South Wind at ALL costs. The 90s needs to repossess this joke of a theater. Horrible location near big box land. Horrible interior design that looks like an Aladdin’s Castle. Horrible ticket counters where i’ve never seen more than 2 open -even with lines stretching into the parking lot. No leg room in any of the stadium seats. South Wind, your days are numbered.”
Back to Lawhorn’s column…
Not only did he fail to call Regal out – which wouldn’t have taken much in the way of guts, since the company just inherited the South Wind from Hollywood and had no hand in its current state – Lawhorn allowed Regal’s PR shill to crow about the plex without so much as countering on a single point.
“We are impressed with the South Wind,” Regal spokesdude Russ Nunley is quoted. “We think South Wind is an exceptional theater.”
Really? Really? Really?
Check out what Ty O of Lawrence posted:
“South Wind 12 Theaters are terribly outdated in every conceivable way. The screens are small, seats are uncomfortable, projectors dim and old, sound system bad, and to top it all off, it’s overly expensive – even their student and matinee discounts are minimal. A theater of this quality is usually reserved for dollar films rather than new releases. They know they’re the only game in town and so do nothing to remain current in technology or comfort.”
There’s only one theater in KC I know of this bad, and that’s the buck house out east off I-70.
Unfortunately, the Lawrence media is too limp-wristed to call the South Wind out for its glaring shortcomings. Isn’t the role of a newspaper to be a watchdog on local matters of interest and importance? To cast a critical eye when and where needed and be an instrument of change?
That’s not always the case in a one horse town with a narrow minded, good-old-boy publisher/owner at the helm.
Memo to Chad Lawhorn:
If you’re going to write about hard news and serious stories, ditch the laffing boy mugshot of you they run in the print paper and go back to the halfway serious one pictured here.
You do a great job joking around, and at times uncover a lot of news people can use. But if you want to have any credibility as a reporter, you’ve got to separate the corn pone from the serious stuff.
You can’t play court jester and 60 Minutes, hard news guy at the same time, beneath that shit eating grin column mug.
You’re better than that.