Grandin Theatre Seats

Roanoke’s historic Grandin Theatre is raising money to upgrade its aging seats. The new, comfier seating can be seen now in the small first-floor screening room. Fundraising is underway to tackle the main theater and its roughly 320 seats.

The Grandin Theatre said there are no ifs, ands or butts around it: The historic cinema needs new seating.

The movie theater is working to replace its well-worn seats across all four screening rooms.

“It’s all about improving the patron experience,” said Ian Fortier, director of the nonprofit foundation that runs the theater.

The new seats will be comfier than their aging predecessors while still preserving the aesthetics of the movie house, Fortier said.

The seating, already installed in the small first-floor screening room, is rose hued with a tufted-button detail.

It also boasts upgraded comforts like higher, more supportive backs.

The older seats that are being retired date back to at least 2001 when the theater was revived. The chairs were refurbished as part of that initiative but reflect a mix of parts that are now decades old and deteriorating, or in some cases breaking, Fortier said.

The Grandin Theatre has a total of 509 movie seats. The push to overhaul them is being handled in phases.

A public fundraising campaign is underway to help tackle what will be the biggest phase: the sweeping main room and its roughly 320 seats.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made at the theater, where pledge forms are available, or online via its website.

Supporters also can chip in by rounding up their ticket and concession purchases to the next dollar. The additional money generated will go directly toward the campaign.

Seat replacements for the other three screening rooms were supported through an earlier quiet phase of the fund drive.

The first-floor screening room was redone in April. The second-floor rooms will be revamped at the end of the summer season.

The seating refresh, which in total will cost about $185,000, is part of a series of strategic renovations the theater has been pursuing.

In 2018, it updated its concessions area. In 2016, it refurbished its front entrance and ticketing system.

Taken together, Fortier said, the work is helping moviegoers enjoy a better visit from beginning to end.

“From the time you purchase your ticket to when you sit down, your experience is being upgraded,” he said.

For more information about the campaign or to donate online, visit

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Alicia Petska covers what's happening in Roanoke County and the City of Salem.

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