SMALL BUSINESS SUPERSTAR SPOTLIGHT: SCREENLAND THEATRE
Feb 01, 2022
The theatre is dark. The screen is large. The popcorn is fresh. And if you’re at Screenland Armour Movie Theatre in North Kansas City, you’re not only at a fan-favorite of movie theatres, but you’re also supporting a local business that’s become well-known as an eclectic and unique movie theatre.
Adam Roberts has owned Screenland Armour for ten years. He never set out to own a movie theatre. In fact, he calls himself an “accidental entrepreneur.” But over the past decade he and his team have built Screenland Armour into a popular theatre across the region. He knows Screenland won’t give the same experience that movie theatre chains with giant or even IMAX screens can give, but he says that works in their favor. “I’ve always compared us to the vinyl record renaissance because we are a little bit more analog,” said Roberts. “We’re a little more hands on, a little more crafty, and a lot weirder than chain theatres.”
That weirdness has helped Screenland grow a loyal following. Moviegoers can expect to find a huge blockbuster (think Spider-Man: No Way Home) playing at the same time that a retro film from the 1950s might be showing. “Forever there’s been your art house theatre and your mainstream theatre. Well, why can’t I just be everything?” Roberts asked.
COVID hit movie theatres hard when the pandemic first began. “I ask myself ‘how did we even survive in 2020?’ I look at how many movies we were showing and what we were showing. We were just grinding it out and doing everything we could to make money.” That included outdoor movies shown on the back of the building, launching Screenland Online so customers could screen movies at home through Screenland Armour instead of a larger service, hosting smaller private theatre rentals, and even launching a Patreon to bring live events with filmmakers into people’s living rooms.
“Over the past decade we’ve really been building this communal theatre and the heart of that was to keep that community together at a time when we couldn’t be together in person,” said Roberts. “We wanted to bring Screenland home to you.”
The communal aspect goes beyond the films. Screenland shows popular series like The Walking Dead so fans can watch together, Chiefs games during the season, and they partner with local breweries in KC to serve their products to moviegoers. When “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” was in theatres, Screenland partnered with City Barrel Brewery to create a brew that was reminiscent of Hi-C’s Ecto Cooler drink from the 1980s. The HiPA was an orange and tangerine green IPA complete with Slimer on the label. Last summer they also partnered with The Record Bar and Voltaire to host outdoor movies in the West Bottoms.
Collaboration and innovation were big reasons Screenland was recognized as a Small Business Superstar in 2021. Roberts valued the recognition because of the connections he made and the stories and experiences he took from fellow small business owners. “It’s small businesses helping each other. Some people look at other small businesses as competition but for us the more people we work with the bigger our net is cast,” he said. “It’s everyone sharing ideas and helping each other out to offer solutions to keep each other afloat.”
Roberts said he’s watched 300 movies in 2021 and his favorite was Licorice Pizza. Whatever movie someone decides to see next on the big screen, Roberts says Screenland Armour is ready to welcome them. “Come watch a movie and do the thing you’re supposed to do – escape the world for a little bit. Come enjoy the journey.”
To recognize Small Business Superstars like Screenland Armour, you can enter your submissions now right here. You have until February 7.