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“It’s A Relief” The Only Movie Theatre In Philip Finally Opens Its Doors After A Year And A Half

Amy Miner, the manager of The Gem Theatre

The Gem Theatre in Philip, South Dakota is open to the public for the first time since the pandemic began.  

They closed their doors in March 2020, and earlier this year, a snowstorm caused an electrical surge that took out their only projector. Amy Miner is the manager and said it was devastating. 

“And it just fried the board and our projector had there was no replacing it because parts are obsolete,” she said. “And then we found out that our insurance didn't even cover a penny of it. And so that was very disheartening.”  

Miner’s parents bought The Gem Theatre in 2008. But the small theater has been around since the early 1900’s. Miner’s family converted it to a digital theater in 2012. It wasn’t cheap—about $65,000. They had just finished paying that off when the snowstorm hit, and a new projector would cost $40,000.  

Miner’s parents were ready to throw in the towel, but Amy didn’t want to give up. She received some small business COVID-19 relief grants…but it wasn’t enough. So, she started fundraising. 

“We had a lot of community members that stepped up and donated, we had a BBQ fundraiser, and we ended up with two buns at the end of it, because so many people came out,” she said. 

Miner set up a GoFundMe page and someone printed “Save The Gem” shirts to sell. Miner said people just stepped up and really wanted to help. 

She said The Gem Theatre means a lot to Philip and the surrounding communities. It’s the only movie theater for almost 70 miles in any direction.  

“Just tonight we have people from Wall, Kadoka, north of Milesville, Quinn, Philip. And all over in between,” she said. 

Miner said their reopening attracted a small crowd, but she’s just relieved to be open again. This is not Miner’s primary source of income; she works full-time at a daycare.  

“You make ends meet. That's about all you make here. And you know, that's fine,” she said. “We're just here because the kids in this community need a place to go. And so does everybody else.” 

Tickets are $6 for evenings and $5 for a matinee. Miner said keeping prices down is important to her. 

“We don't charge a lot here. So, we have a lot of people with big families, and they couldn't afford to go to Rapid City and buy the tickets and buy all the candy and popcorn and everything,” she said. “But here, it's a lot more affordable. 

The Gem Theatre is open Friday through Monday.