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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Garland Theater to reopen March 1 under new owners: ‘You’ll leave dazzled’

The Garland Theater’s marquee glows in the sky in December. The iconic business recently was sold to real estate developer Jordan Tampien.  (DAN PELLE/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane’s historic Garland Theater is set to reopen on March 1 by showing the local classic “Benny & Joon.”

The theater has been temporarily closed since the end of 2023 after the business and property were sold in December to real estate developer Jordan Tampien.

“It seemed like a no-brainer for the very first movie,” said business co-owner Chris Bovey, who also owns Vintage Print & Neon. “It seemed very fitting that it was filmed right here in the Garland District.”

Bovey co-owns the Garland Theater with fellow entrepreneur Tyler Arnold, who is part owner of the Jedi Alliance, an arcade, toy museum and event space in Spokane. The pair has been working to revive the Garland Theater for months, but their work during the theater’s closure has largely been focused on renovations.

“The things that we’re doing is trying to polish it up, make it nicer, fresh coat of paint … redo the movies sound system and get the screen wider, that kind of thing,” Arnold said.

Aesthetic changes aside, the duo plans to continue the Garland’s business model of showing classic movies on the big screen.

“We’re going to really celebrate the films from the last 75 years that we think people still want to see, and really do big events around those cult classics, but also really hand select modern hits like ‘Barbie’ (and) ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,’” Arnold said. “My family, 20 years ago, we would go see a movie at the mainstream theater and then the movie that we felt like needed a second viewing, we’d come to the Garland.”

Bovey agreed.

“It’s going to be not just movies that you could already stream online, but classics that you can’t see on the big screen anymore,” he said. “It’s still going to be affordable; it’s still going to be family friendly.”

Expanding on the idea behind “Benny & Joon,” Bovey and Arnold plan to show a major local Hollywood film every Friday and Saturday through March.

Garland visits will be about more than just seeing a movie, Bovey said.

“The movie will just be the icing on the cake,” he said. “Coming to the theater is going to be the experience, and so you’ll leave dazzled.”

Less than a month from opening day, Bovey said the two are nervous and excited.

“We see the end in sight and we’re kind of wrapping up projects, which is a good thing, but there’s still a lot to do, but we feel confident that we can pull it off and give Spokane a great theater once again,” he said. “It’s a gem and it’s a treasure and it deserves to be saved.”

Bovey said the community is just as excited.

“People are excited to come back to the theater and see the changes we’ve made and bring their families back here for an affordable night,” he said.

The Garland Theater’s website is still a work in progress and won’t be ready for a few weeks, so customers can’t buy tickets yet, a Garland Theater Facebook post said. The business will announce when the site is working.

Roberta Simonson's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.