Frequently Asked Questions

Operational Questions

Restoration Questions

Operational Questions

When are movies shown?

Movies will be shown 7-days a week with new films beginning on Fridays. Unless otherwise noted, show time is 7 p.m.  Sunday has a 4 p.m. matinee in addition to the 7 p.m. showing. (If patron demand determines a second show is needed, it may be added at 9:30 p.m.)

How much does a movie cost?

Standard ticket prices are $4 for adults (12 & older); $3 for children (under 12). Movies shown in 3-D are $6 for adults, and $5 for children, or an additional $2 per ticket.

What types of movies will be shown?

The Avery has contracted with Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios among others. A variety of films will be shown to appeal to all audiences.  Whenever possible, movies will be shown in RealD 3D, and be closed captioned with descriptive video.

Is the theater handicap accessible?

The main floor is fully accessible, including the ground-level restrooms. The auditorium has five spaces reserved for wheelchair patrons that are interspersed throughout the seating area.

Hearing impaired patrons will have access to personal headsets. In addition, closed caption viewing devices are also available for use. Both items are available for use at any seat in the auditorium. To request a device, ask the volunteer working in the Ticket Booth.

How does a person work or volunteer at the theater?

Teams of volunteers will primarily staff the Avery. A volunteer sign-up sheet is available at the theater or through the SignUp Genius link on the Get Involved! page. Send an email to or leave a message at 641-925-2879 (AVRY).

There are three part-time managers which are the only paid staff positions. Managers will coordinate volunteer schedules, work with the booking agent to schedule movies, and monitor concession supplies.

How big is the screen?

The viewing area of the screen is 30-feet wide by 12-feet tall. The screen is a Harkness Spectral 240, an ultra-high brightness silver screen designed for 3D and realD movies.

How is the Avery different from other theaters?

Movies will be projected by the “brightest digital cinema projector available” onto a large 3D and RealD-capable silver screen. Movies using the technology, 7.1 surround-sound will embrace the auditorium patrons while those in the smaller VIP Lounge will hear action in 5.1 surround-sound. Spacious seating allows patrons of all sizes to view movies in comfort without fear of banging knees or sitting on top of one’s neighbor.

How many seats does the theater have?

The auditorium has seating for 200 people: there are 195 theater seats and 5 wheelchair spaces. The auditorium of the original Avery had 400 seats; with the new auditorium, care was taken to make wider-spaced rows and quality theater seats a top priority. Today’s Avery provides a quality viewing experience for all patrons.

What’s upstairs?

The projection booth, the Cry Room, the VIP Lounge, and the Marquee Room. The Cry Room is available to families with young children at no extra cost.  The Marquee Room and the VIP Lounge are available for rent and must be reserved in advance. For more information about the rental policies, see the Rental page.

Can the theater be rented?

The VIP Lounge, and the Marquee Room can be rented for $40 for 1-3 hours, plus the purchase of movie tickets. The Marquee Room can be rented for private meetings at a cost of $100 for up to 8 hours. The Auditorium can be rented for $250 for up to 4 hours; this includes use of the projector and a trained volunteer to operate the technical equipment.

Room rentals must be concluded, and the room cleaned and vacated by 6 p.m., or one hour prior to the start of a scheduled movie. In all cases, a room-usage deposit is required. For more information about the rental policies, see the Rental page.

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Restoration Questions

How did this restoration project start?

In late 2006, the Avery movie theater building was “rediscovered” when its 1970s false front was removed. Soon wistful comments were heard: “Wouldn’t it be great to have our own movie theater again?”

A grassroots fundraiser started with the youth at Garner-Hayfield Community Schools. Adult volunteers got behind the idea and the committee to “Restore the Avery” was created. Their vision has been to bring back the local movie theater as a self-supporting business, operated by volunteers, that provides economical entertainment options for all ages.

Will the theater pay for itself?

Yes! Once it’s operational, the Avery can be fully self-sustaining through ticket sales, concession stand sales and rental proceeds. However, for the theater to have the best opportunity for success, it’s important for it to be debt-free from the beginning. Additional funds are needed to make this happen.

Does it still need donations?

More than 80 percent of funds have been raised, and there is no mortgage or significant debt. It’s important that donors who have pledged monies over multiple years follow through on their donations. Ongoing help is needed to remain Debt-Free from Day One!

Does the Avery have business plan?

Garner and Hancock County needed a multi-functional family-friendly entertainment venue. The volunteer committee has examined the local marketplace and created a business plan designed to ensure the new Avery Theater operates as a successful and self-sustaining non-profit business.

In addition to movies, the new theater space is available for community meeting events, multi-media presentations, and private parties utilizing its state-of-the-art technological features.

Who owns the building?

Garner Main Street, Inc., purchased the building from Rockledge Holding Co., LLC, of Santa Monica, CA. Garner Main Street, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization working with the Chamber of Commerce. The Avery restoration is its first major project.

Financial contributions from a group of visionary individuals, who earned our distinction of the “Producers,” comprised nearly all the funds needed to purchase the building at the time of sale. A modest mortgage remains, however it is likely to be retired in short order.

Does the Avery Theater’s rehabilitation affect my taxes?

No. The City of Garner is not involved in this project beyond limited support as required by some State of Iowa grant programs. No city bonds or tax revenues directly support this non-profit business.

How much did the rehabilitation cost? Who paid for it?

Thanks to the commitment and labor of volunteers and generous donations from both individuals and businesses within the greater-Garner community, restoration was completed for an approximate cost of $525,000.

Courtesy of The Leader.

Courtesy of The Leader.

This amount came from three main areas. Donations and pledges from individuals, business, and organizations totaled about $300,000. Another $120,000 in monies came from grants and private foundations. The remaining $105,000 came from government-funded sources including the City of Garner, Hancock County, a Vision Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant, and a REAP/Historic Resource Development Program (HRDP) grant.

Additional in-kind volunteer labor contributed an estimated value of $200,000.

Why use the old theater building?

Near the start of the process, the building was inspected by architects who confirmed that the building was well built, structurally sound and of historic significance worth preserving.

Located in the heart of downtown, the Avery is ideally situated to help stimulate economic development in the surrounding city blocks.

Why is this important?

The downtown business district often reflects a town’s economic health. In many places, the restored movie theater is a catalyst for downtown economic growth.

The Avery is a historic treasure connecting generations through shared experiences.  When built in 1930-31, the Avery provided a top-quality movie experience for residents of several area counties. The modern, restored Avery is again a community-based entertainment venue. On any given night, youth, adults and families can be seen attending the current movie. (Shortly after opening, the need for a bicycle rack was a clear sign that younger members of the town have come to appreciate the Avery.

When built, the Avery was called the “most luxurious movie house between Des Moines and the Twin Cities.” By reclaiming this legacy, it is our goal to provide quality, year-round entertainment for all ages of movie fans.



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