Goodbye 2016

As we close 2016, an infamous year in about ever respect, we can celebrate the the fact that this is the year we saw our vision for the Grail become a reality.  A year ago we were swimming in permits, construction delays and numerous other challenges.  It wasn't until May that wecovertly opened the theater with three of our favorite classic films.  This soft opening was a gamble.  We didn't know if all of the systems were in place for smooth operations, and we frankly learned as we went.  We made some mistakes along the way, but were also improving every day that we were open.  This is something we still strive to do every day. 

Our vision of a three screen cinema capable of screening the latest blockbuster along side smaller art and independent titles slowly began to take shape.  It was our idea that downtown Asheville would support a space like this, and now we can say that we were on to something.  This holiday season has shown us that we can present a film like Rogue One alongside films like The Eagle Huntress, Dying to Know, The Brand New Testament and a classic like It's a Wonderful Life and each one would find an eager audience.

We've also been very proud to feature a number of special events this year ranging from the premieres of Queer Moxie, Cutting Chai and Little Sister, to community events like Equal Means Equal, Democracy for Sale, Christopher's Garden and so many more.  Making the Grail a special space to see locally produced content was one of our primary goals for the theater and we will continue to seek local partners to make this happen.

As we close out he year we have to thank each and every one of you who have made it down that long hallway and discovered the Grail.  We know many of you by name and hundreds by your faces.  We appreciate every moment you have chosen to join us here and hope that you have seen some great films.  We'll keep 'em coming.  We'll see you at the movies!

Steve and Davida

Grail Moviehouse featured at Torg Stories Podcast

Last week we sat down with Asheville writer and filmmaker William Torgerson to discuss the Grail for Bill's podcast series Torg Stories.  We first met Bill when he brought his wonderful documentary 'Christopher's Garden" to us and we screened it to sellout crowds on a Saturday afternoon at the Grail.  We are now featuring Bill's work regularly as part of our opening loops for Grail films.

Here's the link to the Torg Stories Podcast with owners of the Grail Moviehouse.

Long time no blog

We're in our sixth week of operation at the Grail and beginning to get our stride.  It's been a long time since we've written on this blog, but there's a good reason.  We've been pretty busy.

Since we last wrote, we frantically worked through the final stages of permitting and building the Grail.  The process was full of surprises, just as we'd been told to expect by many other first time business owners.  Some were minor inconveniences and others were huge obstacles.  But we were lucky to have a tremendously talented contractor and his dedicated crew to help us plow ahead on what had become a much larger version of our original vision for the theater. 

We opted to add a third screen when we realized the flexibility that it would give us in booking the type of films we wanted to bring to Asheville.  We also scrapped our original beloved green seats when we decided they weren't comfortable enough (anyone want 100 theater seats with flip up desks?).  Then there were the last minute inspections that grew into several weeks of hair pulling and nail biting, but in the end we made it through. 

We opened on May 19, a Thursday with a double bill of local programming - Mechanical Eye Microcinema in screen 2 with an open screening, and the return of the Asheville Film Society in Screen 1.  The AFS was led by our new friend and mentor, the now late Ken Hanke.  His confidence in us helped drive us to improve the Grail in every way.  It's something that we continue to do every day.

We or now in week 6. Or is it 7?  We have an amazing staff and are booking great films that likely would not have played in Asheville.  We've had a couple of missteps, but are learning as we go.  The best part of the process is getting to know our patrons, the film lovers of Asheville.  We cannot thank you enough for making your way down the 100 foot hallway to spend your time and money at the Grail.

More construction updates - 2-27-16

Most of our insulation is in and drywall has gone up in the Box Office, small bathroom and back concession wall.  We've also installed our rear exit doors that connect to the Asheville School of Film hallway. 

Gears are turning again

As you can see from the Asheville Citizen Times article from yesterday, there is a lot of activity going on at 45 S. French Broad.  The building is one of the largest in downtown Asheville and it's about to get much larger.  With plans to add more stories to the building, much of the work involves structural reinforcement, consequently slowing our construction schedule.  This week things started moving again and we are seeing daily progress on the interior of the Grail.  The next several weeks will see a dramatic transformation of the theater.  Here's a peek at the insulation going up.  We tend to get very excited over the most mundane things.  Enjoy.

Glowing December update at the Grail

Since our last post there has been a flurry of activity at the Grail.  Our plumbing, electrical and HVAC is going in and we're finalizing many of the details for our final construction push.  Today, among the sounds of multiple teams working at once, we had a chance to review some options for our marquee with our local sign wizard Sanford Hodges.  Like many of the elements going into the theater - we're keeping our neon work of art local.  Today's topic was colors (No, we're not changing the cinema name to HONDA, but it is a nice blue).

Submit your local film to our new Online Screening Room

We're adding a new feature to the Grail website to showcase the work of local filmmakers.  The Screening Room will be part of our Filmmaker's Playground, a set of resources that we hope will help the Asheville film community get work made and seen.  If you have a film, video, trailer, music video, commercial project or other production work you'd like us to include, please use the form on our SUBMIT page.

Old Stomping Ground - Chelsea Theater, Chapel Hill

Just over 20 years ago I was one of the managers of one of the first true art house theaters in North Carolina - The Chelsea in Chapel Hill. I'm pleased that the Chelsea is still going strong.  Here's a nice short produced by UNC students Garrett Herzfeld, Nikko Carlson, Kylie Shryock, and McKenna Franchik from 2012 featuring my old boss and mentor Bruce Stone.  At the time the future of the Chelsea was in jeopardy due to the costs of digital conversion. 


Reeling In the Years A Man and His Theater. This was a documentary produced for the class COMM 635: Documentary Production at the University of Chapel Hill for the Spring 2012 semester. By Garrett Herzfeld, Nikko Carlson, Kylie Shryock, and McKenna Franchik.

Grail Moviehouse Video Update - Halls, Walls, Seats, and something that rhymes with seats.

This week we've decided to show you what's happening at the Grail.  We've made good use of our smartphone cameras over the past several months.  Please share the video and like us on Facebook.  It really does help.


Halls, Walls, Seats and Eats. Lots of exciting things are happening at the Grail. We received our first building permits from the city this week and work is underway.

Updates on the Grail

We've been working on many things at once during the past month.  Our architect Red House has been preparing the interior plans which should be submitted later this week.  In the meantime we've purchased our seats which we will be storing for the time being after another marathon trip to NY.  Our popcorn popper is also on the way, as are the sound systems for both screens.

We've begun talking with several local businesses and non-profits about potential partnerships to bring some amazing film events to Asheville, and many area filmmakers have shared their interest in what we are doing.  Hopefully they'll help us define what a Filmmaker's Playground is so we can build it.   

Things are starting to take shape at 45 South French Broad as evidenced by the evolution of our entrance:

The entrance gives us a nice little nook for our future box office:


Things will really start moving once we get the building permits for the interior.  We'll keep you posted.

Thank you to everyone for their encouragement and great ideas.  Keep them coming.  We're listening. 

The Brooklyn Connection

We've just returned from a trip to Brooklyn where we met with the former owner of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, Kenn Lowy, to purchase some well needed items including our Digital projector and server for Screen 1. 

On our one night off we visited Videology, a video and movie themed bar and screening room where we enjoyed a night of Arrested Development Bingo.  We'll share more pics and info from the trip when we come up for air.

More for NC Theater Geeks - Cardinal in Raleigh

My brother sent this pic of another time capsule today from the site of the Cardinal Theater in Raleigh.  He worked there during the time it was owned by Plitt and then Cineplex-Odeon.  It was also where he met his wife.  Sadly, as shown in the last image, the Cardinal now sleeps with the fishes.

I was an 18 year old theater manager when this trailer was first unveiled at a meeting in Toronto for Cineplex.