It’s a ‘Wonderful’ plan: Fans of Penn Theatre fight to save iconic Christmas movie tradition
Long run of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ in downtown Plymouth could end without some community-wide magic
George Bailey would assuredly embrace the community show of love Plymouth’s Penn Theatre is about to receive tonight.
With the abrupt end of the annual run of the 1946 Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” at The Penn looming like a dark cloud over Kellogg Park, lovers of the theater (and the movie) — and there are many — are planning a group photo at 8:30 p.m. Thursday near the iconic venue’s marquee in an effort to convince Paramount Pictures to reconsider its decision to not make the movie available to the Penn this year.
Paramount recently announced a moratorium of showing the film at smaller venues like the Penn due to financial reasons.
As soon as Penn Theatre Executive Director Ellen Elliott heard of the moratorium, she took action.
“When I found out other theaters were still being allowed to show the film — the Michigan Theatre, being one — I contacted Paramount and plead with them to change their mind,” Elliott said. “While people can still watch the movie on TV at home, there’s nothing quite like watching it in a theater like ours, surrounded by members of your community.
“Basically, I told them, ‘Plymouth is Bedford Falls’.”
Without hearing a positive response from Paramount, Elliott decided to organize a group photo in front of the Penn’s marquee for Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
“My thinking is if the people at Paramount can see the number of people who want the tradition of showing ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ at the Penn to continue, hopefully they’ll reconsider,” Elliott said.
Among the Plymouth residents committed to attending Thursday’s gathering is Vikki Plagens, whose role as a volunteer was instrumental in helping the theater survive a near-closing in 2006.
Plagens, the branch manager of Plymouth’s Crosscountry Mortgage, has sponsored the showing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the Penn for several years.
“The messages the movie delivers still resonate today: duty to your community, loving humanity, good vs. evil, even suicide when George Bailey realizes how miserable his family and community would be without him in it,” Plagens said. “Paramount is acting a lot like Mr. Potter acts in the movie when he steals the envelope with $8,000 in it.
“It’s one of those rare movies where at the end, people in the audience are clapping and crying at the same time. It would be a shame to see it come to an end in Plymouth.”
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