Brew and View Takes the Spotlight at Franklin’s Historic Artcraft Theatre

Brew and View Takes the Spotlight at Franklin’s Historic Artcraft Theatre

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

One of the classic movie houses of Indiana is learning a new role, and they’re turning out to be a star. The Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin has begun a season of their Brew and View series with Shale Creek Brewing of the same city. Many people know about the Artcraft; Walter and I drive down for classic films quite often, everything from Abbott & Costello comedy flicks to Alfred Hitchcock film festivals. This is a special place for people who love the cinema.

Opened in 1922 as a silent movie house and vaudeville theater, the Artcraft originally had a full orchestra pit and dressing rooms for performers. It was renovated in 1938 and again in 1948 when the Art Deco décor and neon lights were added. As it stands now, the Artcraft is one of the most intact Art Deco theaters in the state and is registered as a historic building.

In 2004, Franklin Heritage, Inc. purchased the theatre and brought it back as a cinema house via a $500,000 campaign for renovation to preserve and utilize the space for the citizens of Indiana. Almost all the people that work with the Artcraft are volunteers (just seven of the over 200 people are full time employees), so this is truly a community project to man and maintain. Open again now for 15 years, Artcraft draws in fans from many miles away. In fact, before each show they give away a prize for the group who traveled the furthest to attend.

image credit: Artcraft Theatre

The bi-weekly movies are shown on Friday and Saturday matinees (2pm) and evenings (7:30pm). Each evening show has a cartoon, a live action show with a prize wheel, and sometimes there is even something called “Short Attention Span Theater.” Done as a public service for those who might fall asleep during the show, local volunteers act out the film in 30 seconds so everyone can enjoy it maximally.

Two years ago, Shale Creek Brewing owner Mike Baker was getting ready celebrate his brewery and taproom’s first anniversary just two blocks from the theater. This was when the Artcraft came to him with the idea of combining classic films and craft beer; two arts being joined into one. Mike is a huge classic cinema fan, so the question wasn’t completely out in the open before he said yes. The first year they did two Saturday night “Brew and View” events as they are called, and this was increased to four times for 2017. The shows sell in record fashion, meaning that up to 625 people were/are enjoying these evenings.

For the new season, April 27th was the first of six Brew and View dates. Blazing Saddles was the film (it’s OK that it has passed, it was sold out already anyway), and many of the films for this series will be comedies or action films. A $10 ticket gets you into these movies and all the other entertainment, and a free pint of Shale Creek beer on draft. If you are young or don’t drink beer, the ticket then can be used for a box of popcorn and a soda. Upcoming Brew and View nights will include Office Space (June 8), Lethal Weapon (November 16), Austin Powers (August 10), The Lost Boys (October 5), Anchorman (February 22, 2020), and My Cousin Vinny (April 25, 2020).

Check the Artcraft Theatre’s website for the dates and times, but don’t dawdle, the tickets will be snapped up quickly after they go on sale. Additional pints can be purchased from Shale Creek during the film – some of these are at least three-pint flicks. The shows have become so popular that while Mike started with one jockey box serving beer in the lobby, he now has two jockey boxes running. Before the feature starts, you can get your beer either at the front of the theater by the stage or in lobby. After the movie starts, Mike moves the second jockey box out to the lobby and has two going at once in that location.

image credit: Shale Creek Brewing

As for the beer, Mike had got some great choices on when I visited the taproom a couple of weeks ago. His NE IPA, called Hazy Train, has been scoring large on UnTappd, while my current favorite is the Dark Side of Amber, a whiskey barrel aged rye amber. His wee heavy also comes in a bourbon barrel aged version, and the Tipsy Melon, a watermelon blonde, will most likely be back for summer 2019.

But wait, what if action/comedy movies and beer aren’t your style – are you left on the cutting room floor at Artcraft? Nope, they have another program for select Friday nights called, “Reel Women: Vintage Wine.” The movies are different – examples for the 2019-2020 season include A Knight’s Tale (June 7), Mama Mia (August 9), Ghost (October 4), Love Actually (November 15), Pretty Woman (February 21, 2020), and Legally Blonde (April 24, 2020). In this case, your $10 ticket gets you into the movie and other entertainment, plus a glass of wine from the Mallow Run Winery of Bargersville. Like with Brew and View, additional glasses of wine will be available for a modest fee.

Look up the schedule and start taking your family and friends to Franklin for a brew and a view. Sure, it’s a movie, but there‘s so much more to a show at the Artcraft than just a movie. Add to that a local craft beer or three and you’ve got a heck of an evening.


banner image credit: The Historic Artcraft Theatre

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