Sanctuary Cinema in Alpena exceeds expectations in first year of operation

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Customers at the Sanctuary Cinema look at a large cake celebrating the theater’s first anniversary, while theater staff and owner Jeff Konczak prepare to serve it on Sunday. In its first year, the cinema sold about 60,000 tickets, Konczak said.

ALPENA — The success of the Sanctuary Cinema in Alpena exceeded the highest expectations owner Jeff Konczak had when he opened the theater.

On Sunday, during a special customer appreciation day celebrating the cinema’s first anniversary, Konczak said the theater sold more than 60,000 tickets and he believes there is still room for future growth.

Cinema staff, moviegoers, and owner Jeff Konczak celebrated the theater’s special day with whoever wanted to drop by.

People entering the cinema were met with a huge cake that featured an underwater view of the seating and a screen of one of the theaters that read Thank You for One Year.

There was also popcorn made from frosting scattered on top of the cake to add to the theater vibe of the cake’s decorations.

When Konczak rebuilt the former Royal Knight Theater, he gave the new cinema a nautical theme while including the latest video and audio technology and many other upgraded amenities.

The theater also includes reclining seats that include small heaters in them.

The latest addition to the cinema was a liquor license so adults could enjoy a cocktail while watching the most recent theatrical releases.

Konczak said things have gone well at the theater since its grand opening and he attributed its success to his employees and management team for making the cinema one of downtown Alpena’s most popular businesses.

He credited Director of Theater Operations Jordan Stancil, Assistant Director of Theater Operations Caitlynn Shadbolt, and all of the other employees for making the cinema a success.

“We sold about 60,000 tickets, which is more than what the Royal Knight and State Theater had combined in a year when they were operating. It’s insane,” Konczak said. “I think that is a testament to Jordan and Caitie and the staff. They are fantastic rockstars.”

The cinema has also helped to pump up business to surrounding shops and restaurants, as people often grab ice cream at Scoops before or after a flick or grab a bite to eat from a nearby restaurant or tavern.

Konczak said that was always the goal, but he forwarded a lot of the credit for the growth and popularity of Downtown Alpena to other local leaders and small business owners.

“It is another thing that gets people walking around downtown and when they do that, they spend money,” he said. “All of these stores downtown are doing the exact same thing, they are trying to get people walking around. We’re thrilled to be a part of that. We’re thrilled we have amenities that can bring folks to town and it is what we wanted to do, but everyone is doing their part and working hard.”

As Hollywood continues to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent writer’s strike that setback many major movie projects, the remainder of this year should include many blockbusters. Konczak said he anticipates ticket sales to remain robust.

He said many customers over the last year visited Alpena to see a movie and now, Konczak said, passengers on Great Lakes cruises that stop in Alpena are purchasing tickets to see a movie when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate for other on-shore tours and events.

“We are seeing people from all over, and the added business from the cruise ships only helps the cinema and the other businesses,” Konczak said. “Viking is only one of 50 Great Lake cruises, so there is a lot of room for growth for everyone.”


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