Monday, April 6, 2020

Entertaining the Generations | Kent Lott, Royal Theatres

Kent Lott, owner of Royal Theaters, and his wife, Ingrid
Kent Lott has been in the theater business for nearly three decades and owner of Royal Theaters for nearly two. “I just love it, I have a passion for it,” he says.

He started working when he was 16 and showed a talent for projection, a job that was typically saved for a much more seasoned veteran. “In the old days, the film was flammable and it was very dangerous. In fact, they typically paid the projectionist more than the manager. To have a kid run it was just unheard of,” he said. “I worked seven days a week during high school.”

After serving an LDS mission he worked for the Mann Theater in Idaho Falls and then Salt Lake City. When he was offered a job in Los Angeles, he declined it, and they told him to find another job. That brought him back to Idaho Falls to work at the Paramount Theater. In 1993 the opportunity to purchase the downtown Centre Theater came his way.  “I felt like it was the right thing to do,” he said. Lott tells the story of coming up with the down payment and his crazy plan to make it happen. He was able to pull it off without outside investors. “Huge risk, but I'm a risk-taker,” he said.

When Edwards Cinema came to town around 2000 it decreased Royal Theaters' business by 70%. During that time he had to start a side hustle of business promotional products. It was about two years after the new theater that people started coming back to The Centre. Although he never envisioned having multiple theaters, when had the opportunity to purchase the Paramount Theaters he jumped on it.

A few years ago a representative of the city of Blackfoot reached out to Lott, asking if he'd be interested in coming to Blackfoot. After meeting with the chamber and city representatives they went and looked at the old Blackfoot Motors building. Lott had no expectations walking in but once he saw the building he knew it would be perfect and he went to work on putting together an offer.
One day during this process the realtor called him and warned him that there was another offer coming in from Bingham Memorial Hospital, urging him to act fast. Because Bingham Memorial could close faster, the owners accepted their offer and Lott lost his perfect building. He didn't give up on his dream and approached the hospital with his idea. They saw the benefit it would bring to the Blackfoot community and decided it would be best to sell the building to Lott. Now it's the Blackfoot Movie Mill.

Currently, Lott is updating The Centre and The Paramount. The Center has a new entrance and concession and the Paramount is getting new seating, sound, and other state-of-the-art technology.

Lott's newest concern is how the coronavirus might his business and what the future looks like. “I really think we should call this the kidney stone virus," he said. "It's going to be painful for us all, but it will pass. What's going to happen when we re-open is there won't be enough product to fill all of our screens. I think people are going to be hesitant to come out for a while. I don't see people flocking out to the theaters like what we need.”

The future of Royal Theaters includes Lott's son, Brandon Lott. “He's pretty passionate about it. We are a great combination between the two of us,” he said. “I'm the doorman and Brandon is the technical guy,” he said. Lott feels that it has been a successful family business relationship and hopes it continues in light of all of the upcoming challenges.


For more information on Royal Theaters visit http://royaltheaters.com/. Or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/royal.theaters.9/.