The Sterling Theater has announced its first summer movie series.

The Sterling Theater has announced its first summer movie series.

The Pataskala theater will host one movie each month, in conjunction with the weekly farmers market, to provide weekend entertainment and raise funds for continuing renovation of the historic building.

"We are hoping that people will be downtown anyway because of the farmers market," said Nancy Butcher, owner of the Nutcracker Family restaurant, which is hosting and sponsoring the first movie, "Charlotte's Web."

The premiere showing will be June 10 and will include outdoor activities beginning at 5 p.m., including a petting zoo, carnival games and pony rides.

Butcher said movies also would be screened in July and August and possibly September. About 350 tickets are available at a cost of $5 each.

The Nutcracker's Steve Butcher said it has taken some work to be able to license movies for public showing.

"In order to show a movie, you have to have a license and if you are a church or a school or a college, you can get these movies and show them for free or for a very low rental cost," Butcher said. "If you actually have a theater, you have to have a different license and it is much more expensive.

"Some movies you have to get through the studio directly. There are some movies that are really difficult to get. Disney is a great example. You can show a Disney movie out on the lawn during the summer months and not charge admission, but you can't get a license to show it indoors at any time.

"Warner Brothers is another one. It's a 20-page contract. Our hope in the future is we can expand to 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Gone with the Wind,' all those old Warner Brothers movies. But until you have a license, you can't even decide if you can afford to show the movies."

The theater screened "It's a Wonderful Life" in the fall and on the Friday showing, it was obligated to pay 50 percent of ticket receipts. However, at the less-attended Saturday showing, it had to pay a flat fee.

"It is whatever is higher," Butcher said.

By having businesses sponsor the movie showing by paying the licensing fee, all ticket proceeds can be used toward theater operations and renovation, Butcher said. New audio equipment is being installed and new window blinds and professional repainting are all planned for the summer, at a cost exceeding $20,000. Funds also are being raised for new bathrooms and various repairs and upgrades, including "tuckpointing," a term that refers to repairing mortar joints in masonry, and air conditioning and ventilation.

The theater is also preparing an engineering study that will help control mandatory building upgrade costs, allowing the historic theater to adopt less costly alternatives to modern building code requirements.

The theater was built and used as a city building, but it has had its ups and downs.

"It has always been a city building since it was built as Pataskala Town Hall in 1916," said Martha Tykodi, president of the West Licking Historical Society. "In my time growing up, in the 1930s and 1940s, it was the scene of movies every weekend, opened to the whole community and priced very cheaply."