Band Kris Leonhardt
Continuation from the previous week
After purchasing the Marshfield Theater from the Adler family, Paul Rogers converted it to a dual screen facility and named it Rogers Cinema 1 & 2.
In 1976 he built Rogers Cinema Park on the south side of Marshfield.
The following year was busy for Rogers when he and Airway Bar and Lounge owner John Koran forged a partnership. He sold half his stock to his new partner and the company leased three drive-in cinemas owned by Badger Outdoor Theaters.
“If I closed the driveway…I’d stop at 11 a.m. on the way home. We became best friends,” Rogers recalled.
The collaboration helped Rogers with both capital and management.
“I mean, we’ve done drive-ins in Marshfield, Stevens Point, Green Bay and Janesville. And then we bought the single theater in Wisconsin Rapids that we combined that same summer, and in the fall of 1977 we built the Rogers at Stevens Point,” he added.
The couple also built a restaurant space next to the theater and leased it to the Severt family; it became the home of Severt’s Fine Foods. The Severts later bought the room.
“And then, in 1978, we approach the United Artists theaters in New York; they ran the Fox Theater at Stevens Point. We bought their leases and took over the Fox at Stevens Point and the lease at Wausau,” Rogers recalled
They later entered into a land deal with Dan Estree to purchase the Wausau property. They also merged this theater and named it Rogers Cinema 1 & 2.
“The 1970s was really growing for us,” Rogers said.
In 1982, the company ceased operations at its Stevens Point and Marshfield drive-in theaters, and the Green Bay location was demolished. The following year, they formed Rogers Video Exchange and operated three video rental locations.
In 1984 the company tripled the size of the original theater in Marshfield and the Wausau theater. That same year, Rogers Cinema undertook its first venture out of state, renting and later buying the Chief Theater in Red Wing, MN.
Over the next two years, Rogers added two more screens at Wausau and three more at Stevens Point.
In 1985, all theater property was leased to the Essaness Theaters in Chicago. Rogers temporarily left the theater business, but he didn’t stay away for long. He had a lot more to do.
Continued next week