The fall season is in full swing at DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre, and executive director Alex Nerad said the Richard Jenkins Film Series has been a smashing success.
Jenkins is a DeKalb native and a 1965 DeKalb High School graduate who earned his second Academy Award nomination this year for best supporting actor for his role as Giles in “The Shape of Water.” When the film series concludes Oct. 30 with that film, Jenkins will be in attendance, and officials are working to make it a big event.
Jenkins, who went on to study at Illinois Wesleyan University after high school, has more than 100 credits for movie and TV appearances in a career spanning more than 40 years in show business, working with some of the most accomplished actors and directors in Hollywood and being nominated for its highest honors.
He’s also never forgotten his roots. Jenkins has mentioned the Egyptian Theatre as one of the places where his love of movies was born, and donated to a past seat sponsorship fundraising campaign, Nerad said.
So Nerad got in touch with Jenkins about featuring his movies in a fall film series. Jenkins said he was flattered and agreed to make the film selections himself.
“We were super excited that he responded and said he was extremely honored and humbled that we wanted to feature films that he’s been in,” Nerad said. “So he put together his list.”
The films have been showing on Tuesday nights at the theater, and the first four that have drawn 100 people or more about double the normal movie crowd. Tickets cost $6 to $8 each, and the films are shown on the theater’s 35-foot by 22-foot screen – the largest in DeKalb County.
The four films that already have shown are “Dear John” (2010), “Eat Pray Love” (2010), “Flirting with Disaster” (1996) and “Bone Tomahawk” (2015).
Next up is the 2005 drama “North Country,” followed by 2007’s “The Visitor” on Oct. 9, a film for which Jenkins was nominated for an Academy Award for best performance by an actor in a leading role. The 2008 screwball comedy “Step Brothers” follows Oct. 16, and “Norman” from 2010 will be shown Oct. 23.
Nerad said the theater also hopes to have a new high-definition digital projector installed in time for the Oct. 30 finale. Fundraising for the new equipment, which will cost about $50,000, started in earnest with the Give DeKalb County fundraiser in May, and so far, the theater has collected about $40,000, Nerad said.
“We’re just beyond excited. This has turned into something more than we ever could have imagined in terms of the local buzz,” Nerad said. “His high school class of ’65 ended up being one of our sponsors. Pizza Villa, where he worked in high school, is also a sponsor.
“It’s just a really cool thing to be able to feature a celebrity, a DeKalb native who still talks fondly of DeKalb.
There should be a fair amount of community support the rest of the way, including for the big finale. The theater has a capacity of 1,400, so there should be plenty of room for all who want to attend.
There’s also a special reception planned before the showing, with tickets going for $50 each. About half of the tickets already are sold, Nerad said.
Tickets for all of the shows in the series are available online at EgyptianTheatre.org, at the theater box office at 135 N. Second St. or by calling 815-758-1225.
• Eric Olson is general manager of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.