New addition to Ritz Civic Center gives community more possibilities

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2023 at 10:51 PM CDT
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BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Lights, camera, action! The big screen is back in Blytheville.

After over 20 years, the Ritz Civic Center is showing movies that are new releases.

The Ritz was a staple in Blytheville. It lit up downtown with its marquee lights before hosting a movie showing.

In the mid-80s, that stopped when new release movie showings were halted. A Malco theatre opened in Blytheville in the 70s and showed movies for years, but ultimately closed in 2016.

Both moves caused residents to drive outside the city or even the state just to see a movie.

“We have movies back, so that is huge for our community,” said Stan Dutton, executive director at The Ritz Civic Center.

Things changed as the center showed Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 on Friday, May 5.

“We are showing new release movies,” Dutton said.

Renovations have been underway at the Ritz since Nov. 2021 according to Dutton.

Painting, replacing the carpet, and installing a new screen all to prepare to show newly released films.

Mississippi County is attracting more families as the steel industry grows in the county. A key component of keeping industries and people are activities for them to be a part of.

“We want them to move to Blytheville, so we want them to see that we have the Ritz that they can come to for a show, for a movie, for a comedy night, for a concert,” Dutton said.

Nucor Steel Arkansas is teaming up with the Ritz to help continue the growth of the civic center to ensure more movies and programs are available to the community.

“$75,000 per year for the next three years for programming and helping the Ritz continue to deliver to this community,” said Elmer Cherry, controller with Nucor Steel Arkansas.

Dutton said community partnerships like this are important.

“Yes, it is important for you to move here, live here, and be part of it, but it’s also important for us to have something for them to look forward to having to come to see,” he said.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 will be shown every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the rest of May 2023.