Attention to Detail: The Name

Kavitha ReddyPalace


We’ve all had to make decisions about details. Pretend for a minute you are going out to buy a brand new car. You have to decide if you want a car or an suv or a truck. Then you have to decide what make. Then you have to decide the model. Then you have to decide on a color and accessories, etc…. Now multiply that times a million and you have an idea of what it’s like building a movie theater from scratch.

One of the most overwhelming things has been the amount of decisions we have to make. When I first started “working” for the theater, it was just kind of a hobby. I casually picked up Facebook and felt a little like Pandora’s box had opened up. The page grew so quickly, I had to make my first set of decisions… what kind of content to share and how conversational did I want to be.

When dad first bought the theater, I was working for the City of Knoxville. My parents knew I had always wanted to do event planning and tried to convince me to work for the theater in the party room. I started thinking of all the events we could do. The next week, they called to ask what I thought the name should be. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! WE HAVE TO NAME THE THEATER!! I started searching for theater terms and became a frequent user of the thesaurus. I consulted all of my friends and nobody had anything useful. How often do you name a theater?! Unfortunately, I’m not a big movie buff nor do I have any real concept of how to name a business.

I suggested “Movie House” and “Movie Palace.” Both were names movie theaters had used in the past. My thought for Movie House was that it could look like a big southern mansion with a nice front porch and the interior could be designed like a welcoming home. Dad felt both names suggested an old theater and he wanted to appeal to the new crowd and highlight the state of the art features he was putting into the building. He wanted to include the words “Athens” and “digital.” For the longest time, Athens Digital Cinema was the working name. I got annoyed that he wouldn’t consider my suggestions, and I decided the extent of my involvement would be entertaining Facebook for a few months while I tried to find another job.

Somehow, and I’m not sure how, dad decided Athens 5 Cinemas (or was it cinema? I can never be sure!) would be the name. I still protested but had long lost that argument. It was several months later when a consultant dad was using expressed his disapproval of the name. We were at Applebee’s eating and I shared my thoughts with him. He loved the “palace” idea. I had images of luxury jewel tones and plush interiors. Flying carpets and genies. I saw Aladdin.

Dad and I had been in India for a couple months the year before and while we were there we visited a city called Jaipur. Jaipur is known for the gemstones it produces. I loved Jaipur. (If you want to see some of the highlights, google Amer City and Water Palace… but that’s a discussion for another time). While I had been researching potential theater names, I found a list of the top 10 theaters in the world. One of them was located in Jaipur and it was called “Palace Theater.” If you didn’t know, India has an incredible cinema scene. The “Bollywood” stars are more famous than any celebrity here. From what I’ve been told, the actors are like super heroes. Theaters are a HUGE deal there. I thought dad would like the Indian influence of my suggestion, but he was reluctant.

We went back and forth for a few days. I shared my research and thoughts about how the building could reflect the “theme.” Dad didn’t really understand why we needed to go “that far.” He was fine with installing state of the art equipment and letting that be the draw. When he finally agreed to look at the Jaipur theater, I typed in “Jaipur Palace Theater” into my search and got nothing. I panicked. I had built my whole argument around the existence of the elusive Palace Theater and now it was gone.

An hour later, I finally found the theater and sent the link to my dad. The link I found had the name of the theater in Hindi and dad sends me a text that says “That’s not palace theater.” I started reading the comments and realized… the loose English translation was “palace” but the actual translation was “King’s house/temple.” I tried to convince my dad that King’s house was a palace and despite not agreeing with me on the rationale behind it, he agreed with using the name.

He really wanted to include Athens in the name. I didn’t feel it was necessary, but ultimately, I’m very glad we did.