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Lights! Camera! Movie theater! Yep, cinema comes (back) to Lanai

First-run movies will return to Lanai with the reopening of its 1920s movie house.

Tiny Lanai, one of Hawaii’s least visited and most sedate islands, is welcoming a new attraction: a movie theater.

The new theater in Lanai City, population 3,100, will be called Hale Keaka – Hawaiian for theater – and will feature two cinemas, each seating 91 people.

The original Lanai Theater served the community for much of the 20th century. It began screening silent movies in 1926 and later hosted live plays and musical performances. It fell into disrepair after being closed in the 1990s.

Local contractors recently restored the building to its vintage appearance. The original teak panels still adorn the cinema walls; new faux leather seats as well as digital projection and sound systems have been added.

Hale Keaka shows first-run movies. Show times can be found online. "Hot Pursuit," starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara, and "Pitch Perfect 2" are showing through May 28.

The theater was commissioned by James Dole, president of the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. (now Dole Food Co.). At the time, the company owned vast plantations and employed thousands of workers on Lanai and Oahu.

With only three hotels, Lanai attracts a fraction of the visitors as neighboring Maui. The upscale Four Seasons operates two beachfront resorts: Lanai at Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele. The more humble Hotel Lanai is in Lanai City.

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