Huston owns and operates The Avon Theatre single in Decatur,
Ill. and The Art Theatre in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. He also
presides over Ripper Entertainment, a company that operates
the “Haunted Decatur Tours,” and oversees a
record label that releases CDs from local songwriters.
What about you would most surprise the majority of your
I spent over 20 years as an executive in wholesale video
distribution working all over the nation.
the best thing about living in Illinois?
My roots are here (there are several streets named after
my family in Decatur, including one for me personally! – Skippy
Drive – no fooling)!
Leaving aside family members, who was your first role
The first superstar film director, D.W. Griffith, the man
who invented Hollywood!
What would you
wish for if a djinn offered to grant one wish (assuming
wish for more wishes)?
To be able to have a long discussion with all the great
exhibitors of the past. Those old guys knew more about
showmanship than I have seen in current times!
would you be if you weren’t
a cinema operator?
Exactly what I am, a promoter, an entrepreneur and
an accomplished musician.
Who is your favorite filmmaker and why?
I can’t name only one! John Ford, Akira Kurosawa,
Preston Sturges, John Sayles and more.
What was your favorite movie last year?
“Possession” was a sadly overlooked film.
Which movie or movies are you most looking forward to?
The new “Mad Max” film – a “guilty
Who is the most talented actor most people have never
Which book would you most like to see adapted into a motion
James Michener’s “The Source.”
Which TV show do you hate to miss?
“American Dreams” – that Brittany Snow is a
your favorite movie theatre in which you and/or your
partners have absolutely no
GKC’s Strand Theatre in Mt. Zion, Ill. – what
a groovy place!
Which sacred cow would you most like to barbecue?
There is a whole herd of such cows! One is the misconception
that single screen theatres can’t pull the grosses
as well as the multiplexes. A single screen theatre has
the ability to showcase any given film better than anyone!
Another of those pesky sacred cows is the need to be
open seven days a week. If most of your business is done
on the weekends, then only be open, say, Friday through
Monday! All you do is spread the same business out by
being open seven days, and raise your operating costs
the best thing about running a cinema company?
To preserve the values of showmanship for a moviegoing
public that doesn’t see much of it anymore!
The condition that some of our prints are delivered in.
We have very meticulous projectionists who are aghast
at the mistreatment they see of many of our prints. We
always call for replacements. “Good enough” is
never “good enough” for our patrons!
What do you wish someone had told you earlier?
Even with all the best and experienced advisors in the
business, it is still absolutely essential to proceed
as you, and you alone, think is best!
What was the single best piece of advice you ever got?
Just do it till they tell you not to!