On April 9, Barbara “Jeanne” Dewsnup, beloved and respected owner of both the Egyptian Theatre and the TruVu Drive In, passed away unexpectedly. This left the Delta theaters in the hands of her daughter, Kelly Iniguez, until recently. On Thursday, after a process that started in August, Kelly sold the theaters.
Since Jeanne’s death, Kelly struggled with the decision, but she managed the businesses with the help of her crew until she could decide what to do.
“We would not have been on the screen this summer if it weren’t for our excellent crew,” Kelly said. “Almost everyone was a returning employee, which goes to show how [Jeanne’s] help dearly loved Jeanne.” In a text message, Kelly praised the managers, George and Kelsey, as well as the assistants, Dari and Nate, for their hard work.
The decision wasn’t easy, Kelly said, and it came with a lot of guilt for selling her late mother’s business, but she knows it’s in good hands.
Kelly sold the Delta theaters to a family who are all long-time friends and people with whom she has worked with in the past. These people are Margaret Stalcup and Jim and Jane Lane. Also helping with the business is Jim and Jane’s son, Jason. Margaret and Jane are sisters, and prior to 2004, the Lanes and Margaret all worked for Kelly at a theater in Rifle.
In the winter of 2004, Jeanne’s husband, Stanley, bought two theaters in Heber City, Utah, called the Avon Theater and the Ideal Theatre, according to Margaret. That same winter, January of 2005, Stanley died suddenly in the break room of the Ideal Theatre. Margaret said that a while after Stan’s death, Jeanne and Kelly started trying to convince her and the Lanes to buy the theaters in Heber, and they eventually did. To this day, they still own them.
Kelly left the Rifle theater when the town decided they wanted to develop a multiplex theater. The job was offered to Kelly, but she didn’t take it. Kelly said she was getting to the point in her life where she wanted to work fewer hours, and a multiplex theater would guarantee that she would have to work more. Therefore, she returned to Delta, where her mother, Jeanne, was still managing the theaters in town.
When Jeanne died in April, Kelly knew she didn’t want to go back to the seven-night-a-week lifestyle to take her mother’s place. “A good friend of mine said ‘You can’t spend your life living somebody else’s dream,’” Kelly said. “I thought a lot about that over the summer.”
Kelly was happy to have the opportunity to sell the Delta theaters to the Lane family, knowing they would continue Jeanne’s legacy. In addition to the Lane’s offer for the theater, Kelly received an offer from a developer. “I have to be honest and say the developer offered way more than double the money I got from the Lanes,” Kelly said, but she didn’t want the iconic and historic theaters of Delta to be at risk, so she gladly sold them to the Lanes instead.
Kelly explained the importance to her of having her mother’s legacy live on even though Jeanne was gone. Jeanne was on the cutting edge of new theater features, such as 3D, which she integrated early on with the movie “Avatar.” Further back, in the 1970s, she installed radio sound at the drive in soon after it was invented.
Jeanne worked seven nights a week, according to Kelly. She’d always said that she wouldn’t know what else she’d do if she was to take a night off. The only times she wasn’t working at the theater was when she was sick or traveling. Jeanne traveled frequently, according to Kelly. She loved to get out and see the world.
Margaret said that she, Jim, Jane and Jason Lane, will all play their part in continuing to manage the Avon Theater and the Ideal Theatre in Heber City as they inherit the Egyptian Theatre and the TruVu Drive In in Delta. Assistant managers will make the process possible. Margaret and Jason both plan to live in Delta. Jason works as a nursing assistant, so he won’t be at the theaters full time. The plan is that he’ll step in to help when the TruVu opens for the season, as well as during the holiday season when the Egyptian Theatre gets busy.
Margaret does not plan to make any massive changes to the theater, but to instead continue Jeanne’s traditions and keep both locations more or less the same as they are now. One of the few exceptions to this is on the front end. The new owners are updating the ticketing system, making it digital. This will provide the opportunity to buy tickets online ahead of time and cut down on the process of getting into the movie on site. In the more distant future, Margaret wishes to remodel the snack bar and make it bigger, it is currently small for the size of the theater.
In the midst of the immediate updates, mainly the ticketing system, the Egyptian Theatre will be closed from Monday, Oct. 14, through Thursday, Oct. 17. They will likely not be able to take credit and debit cards for a short time after the reopening, as their new bank account will probably not be available yet, Margaret said. The first show that will play at the theater will be “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18.