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March 27, 2014

Palace Theatre brings 'God' to Duncan

DUNCAN — The Palace Theatre was one of 780 movie theaters in the United States to premiere the Christian drama “God’s Not Dead” last weekend, taking in the refurbished theater’s second-highest per screen gross in its opening weekend.

Every showing at the theatre has been sold out, including three showings during the weekend and the lone showing Wednesday, which sold out prior to the box office opening.

“God’s Not Dead” follows college student Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper, as he is challenged by his professor, who doesn’t believe God exists. The professor is played by Kevin Sorbo of “Hercules” fame.

Several churches, including First Baptist in Duncan, First Baptist in Marlow and the Chisholm Trail Church of Christ, rallied to bring the movie to Duncan by contacting the film company Freestyle, which marketed the film to churches.

Haylee Root, one of the owners of the Palace Theatre, said she had several churches ask the Palace to get the film. And as she was trying to get in touch with the company, the company called her to bring the movie to Duncan.

“We have sold out every showing, even when we didn’t pre-sell out,” Root said. “We have opened for additional showings. I consider it a blessing. We try to work with churches throughout the year. We needed something to put us back in the forefront of people’s minds.”

The theater screening the film has 370 seats, which is more seats than a traditional movie theater. Root said most church groups are able to see the movie in one showing, instead of splitting into multiple showings.

Even then, she has seen some of the same people at several showings for the film.

“We will definitely have it through April 3,” Root said. “It’s possible we may have it for a third week, which would put it at April 10.”

Root, who owns the theater with her husband Steven and her parents Frank and Janis Golden, said three additional showings have been added for “God’s Not Dead.”

Although the theater usually is closed Mondays and Wednesdays, evening show times have been added those two days and an additional matinee was added Sunday. These showings will remain in place through the run of the movie, Root said.

Because the film was released to a limited number of theaters, neither Lawton nor Wichita Falls got the movie. Root said the closest showings to Duncan are in Moore and Ardmore.

As a result, the Palace has gotten interest from churches in surrounding and nearby areas. On opening night, a church from Burkburnett, Texas, brought its church members in a church bus to see the movie. Root said there has also been interest from at least one Lawton church.

With the Palace being owned by a Christian family, Root said she’s glad the movie came to Duncan.

“It’s a good film with a great message,” Root said.

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