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Blake and Brook Willeford are continuing the tradition of The Clyde Theater in Langley showing top-rated films that appeal to Whidbey audiences

by Carolyn Tamler 25th March 2024

clyde theater

 

The Clyde Theater has been showing first run movies to Whidbey Island audiences for over 80 years. It was established by Norman and Hazel Clyde in 1937, who sold it to Blake and Lynn Willeford in the 1970’s. The Clyde is now jointly owned by Blake and son, Brook.

 

Father and son choose the films shown at the theater, and they pick films that do not have graphic violence. Brook notes that many films are now designed to attract international audiences. He says there are trends among world-wide audiences which account for the number of action movies, thrillers, horror movies and physical comedies. But, the main focus for the Willefords is to find films that will appeal to local audiences.

 

 

Brook has truly enjoyed being a partner with his father at The Clyde. He says he has a genuine love for the theater, and it has always been part of his life. After attending Carlton College in Minnesota, Brook returned to Whidbey and became a partner with his parents in the operation of the Clyde.

 

The Willefords say they are always looking for films that have local connections. They enjoy having films and film-maker events where there is a presentation and discussion about the film by the local film maker. The biggest box office draws recently have been “Boys in the Boat,” “Truffle Hunters” and “In the Heights.” Oppenheimer and Barbie have also attracted large audiences.

 

Brook is looking at other options that he hopes will build The Clyde audiences, especially with young people on the island, including having some new film categories like Rock Band Battle of the Bands, Racing Tournaments and Sports Game Tournaments. He explains that one of the major problems a local theater like The Clyde has to work around is that the major studios want to make big films that follow proven formulas that cost about $20 - $100 million to make. These large films are distributed with the expectation that the film will be shown for six to 12 weeks.  Even the most popular films at The Clyde can only provide sufficient audiences for two to three weeks.

 

People on South Whidbey who go to the mainland to see a film know they can expect to pay $14 - $20 for a first run film. The Clyde is currently charging $10 a seat.

 

During the period when Covid was a major concern, people avoided going to crowded places, like the theater. Money from the Federal Government helped compensate for this period and enabled The Clyde to survive.

 

The current schedule for The Clyde is four nights a week: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 7:30 p.m. For special, large box office films, The Clyde may add matinees and additional nights.

 

Blake and Brook are always open to recommendations from patrons, and they spend a lot of time scouring the Internet to learn about movies that are being released and movies that are attracting large audiences.

 

The theater is also available for private rentals for movies, presentations, discussions, video games and parties.

 

To see what is current and what will be coming to The Clyde, check the website: www.theclyde.net or their Facebook page.

Posted by WhidbeyLocal
25th March 2024 4:23 am.
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